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Abandoned and derelict boats are more than unsightly nuisances in our local waterways. They can also be hazards to navigation and create environmental impacts from leaking oil, fuel or sewage from the boat’s waste tank. To mitigate these concerns, the Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) is looking to partner with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to remove derelict vessels from the Halifax River.
Currently there are about 10 inoperable vessels – from a small 7-foot boat to a large, 43-foot fully submerged watercraft – in the waterway within the city limits from Wilder Blvd. to Plaza Blvd. Of the 10 vessels, at least two are completely submerged and four can be seen with just their masts or cabins sticking out of the water. Many were abandoned by their owners following Hurricane Dorian last September.
The city is in the process of submitting a grant application to the FWC in the amount of $57,000, which will pay 100% of the removal and demolition cost. The grant is based on cost estimates for contracting with a specialty company to safely remove and dispose of each vessel. If the grant is awarded, city commissioners will be asked to formally accept the funds and the removal process will begin within 60 days.
The city’s derelict vessel process consists of the following steps:
- Once a vessel is identified as being at-risk or derelict, the boat’s owners are notified in writing of the condition and location of their vessel. The information will explain the reasons why the vessel was deemed at-risk or derelict and the rights of the boat’s owners.
- The vessel’s owners have the right to appeal the boat’s status determination and request a special magistrate hearing.
- If owners fail to respond to the written notification, the process will continue until the vessel is brought into compliance or removed.
- Boat owners are responsible for removal and demolition costs. A letter will be sent to the state requesting a hold be placed on the owners’ ability to renew any vehicle registrations in Florida. (If the owner brings the vessel into compliance or pays for its removal, the registration hold is removed.) If the city removes the vessel, the hold will continue until the costs have been recouped. Criminal charges may be filed seeking restitution of funds spent on the vessel’s removal.