House and Senate accept millions for derelict ship removal

The House and Senate agreed on Tuesday to provide $8.2 million for the removal of abandoned ships in Florida’s waterways.

The credit will fund a state-sponsored retirement program that reimburses local governments that remove eligible vessels from public waters.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) oversees the program. He claims Florida is “tormented” with derelict and derelict ships.

“These vessels quickly become derelict vessels and then subject the boating public to safety issues, become places of illegal activity, illegal lodgings, opportunities for theft and vandalism and ultimately cost taxpayers their eviction by local authorities. , county or state,” an FWC website states.

The funding agreement comes after a brief $6.2 million disagreement between the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Agriculture, Environment, and General Government Committee.

The Senate, however, agreed on Tuesday to match the House’s higher proposal in its first budget bid.

It’s unclear exactly how many abandoned boats lie in Florida’s waterways, though a First Coast News report said the state was handling 557 active abandoned boat cases in 2021.

“A vessel is considered abandoned when it is left in storage or abandoned in a wrecked condition, dumped or broken up on public waters or on private property without the consent of the owner,” explains a Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Web page.

Notably, boat owners who intentionally abandon a vessel can face stiff penalties in Florida. According to FWC, intentionally throwing a vessel into state waters is a third-degree felony. Violators can face up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000 plus dismissal costs.

“Every shipowner must realize that there will be an end of life for their vessel,” added FWC. “If they have the possibility of legally selling the ship at the end of its life, that’s great! If not, the owner should have a plan to properly dispose of the vessel.

Govt. Ron DeSantis last year signed legislation to deal with the increase in abandoned boats. The law project (SB 1086) empowered law enforcement to take action against ships at risk, among other effects.

Florida is considering a ship at risk if it takes on water, becomes detached from its anchor or is without effective means of propulsion, among other factors.

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