At Risk Vessels
What is an At-Risk Vessel?
Vessels at risk of becoming derelict are a concern because they can pose threats to public safety, cause property damage, endanger marine life, and block navigable waterways. A vessel is at risk of becoming derelict if any of the following conditions exist:
- The vessel is taking on or has taken on water without an effective means to dewater.
- Spaces on the vessel that are designed to be enclosed are incapable of being sealed off or remain open to the elements for extended periods of time.
- The vessel has broken loose or is in danger of breaking loose from its anchor.
- The vessel is listing due to water intrusion.
- The vessel does not have an effective means of propulsion for safe navigation within 72 hours after the vessel owner or operator receives telephonic or written notice, which may be provided by facsimile, electronic mail, or other electronic means, stating such from an officer, and the vessel owner or operator is unable to provide a receipt, proof of purchase, or other documentation of having ordered necessary parts for vessel repair.
- The vessel is tied to an unlawful or unpermitted structure or mooring.
NOTE: This section does not apply to a vessel that is moored to a private dock or wet slip with the consent of the owner for the purpose of receiving repairs.
Law enforcement officers work to encourage at-risk vessel owners to bring their vessel into compliance before it becomes derelict through periodic inspections and at-risk citations and warnings.
Violations of at-risk vessels are noncriminal infractions with increasing fine amounts for repeat violations. They may be enforced through a uniform boating citation issued in person or mailed to the registered owner of an unattended vessel anchored or moored on the waters of this state. Fees are as follows:
- For a first offense, $100.
- For a second offense occurring 30 days or more after a first offense, $250.
- For a third or subsequent offense occurring 30 days or more after a previous offense, $500.
A person cited for violating any provision of 327.4107, F. S. (Vessels at risk of becoming derelict on waters of this state) shall be cited to appear before the county court. Failing to appear or otherwise properly respond to a uniform boating citation will result in charges for failing to respond to a citation and upon conviction be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, in addition to the charge relating to the boating law violation. A written warning to this effect will be provided when a uniform boating citation is issued.
If you've been issued a uniform boating citation, either pay the penalty as directed or request a court hearing through the county court having jurisdiction. In addition, you have 30 days from the date the uniform boating citation was issued to bring your vessel into compliance.
Vessel owners who are unable to bring their vessel into compliance and have received at least one written at-risk warning or citation can voluntarily surrender their unwanted, at-risk vessel to the FWC. The FWC will dispose of the vessel at no cost to the vessel owner through its Vessel Turn-In Program (VTIP).
A person who anchors or moors a vessel at risk of becoming derelict on the waters of this state or allows such a vessel to occupy such waters commits a noncriminal infraction, punishable as provided in s. 327.73, Florida Statutes.
There are many reasons why a vessel owner whose vessel is anchored or moored could receive a citation. The most common reasons are:
- Vessel is at risk of becoming derelict for one of the reasons listed at the top of this page.
- No anchor light displayed: 327.33(3), F.S.
- Expired Registration: 328.72(13), F.S.
- Improper Display of Registration: 328.48, F.S.
- Interference With Navigation: 327.44, F.S.
Florida Vessel Turn-In Program
If you have received a written citation or a warning for your vessel being at risk, you can voluntarily surrender it to the FWC through its Vessel Turn-In Program (VTIP). Surrendered vessels will be removed from Florida waters and destroyed at no cost to the owner. This program allows vessels to be removed before they become derelict and allows vessel owners to avoid liability and legal issues.
Learn how to qualify and apply at MyFWC.com/VTIP.