Lawmakers inject another $11 million into derelict ship removal program

Lawmakers plan to give an additional $11.7 million for the removal of abandoned ships from Florida’s waterways.

Wednesday’s allocation of federal COVID-19 relief dollars is in addition to the $8.2 million agreed to Tuesday in the state budget.

In total, the $19.9 million will fund a state-offered removal program that reimburses local governments that remove eligible vessels from public waters.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) oversees the program. He says 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.

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 state, 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.

Boat owners who intentionally abandon a vessel face severe penalties. 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 $5,000 fine 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.

The House and Senate get millions in tax revenue to play with towards the end of budget negotiations. This money is distributed among different projects in what is known in legislative parlance as the “sprinkling list”.

The House and Senate released their “sprinkling lists” Wednesday night. Leaders agreed $759 million for local projects.

The release of the slate is a sign that budget negotiations are over and the Legislative Assembly will reach its new scheduled end date of Monday, March 14.

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