The gulf waters that surround Marco Island provide residents and visitors alike a wonderful backdrop from which to enjoy the many opportunities that boating provides to them. Whether it be fishing, waterskiing, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling or scuba diving the opportunities are limitless.
Throughout the State of Florida, however, the issue of abandoned boats have become an awfully expensive problem for the state, county, and local municipalities. Last year alone it was reported that on any given day there are over 500 derelict or abandoned boats in our waterways. Approximately 300 of those are in some stage of litigation regarding removal.
2 years ago, after Hurricane Irma, 948 damaged crafts had to be removed as a result of the storm, costing the State of Florida $52 million.
At present, there are two vessels in the Marco River that have been declared as “derelict.” They are very visible from land and from the water.
Marco Island P.D. reports that the sailboat on the north side of the river is in the process of being removed. That removal process will require that the tides be adequate before that operation can begin. The legal process regarding removal is being implemented to allow for the removal of the second vessel which is closer to the Marco side of the river.
Identifying ownership of a vessel can be one of the major issues which confront law enforcement at times in ascertaining the actual owner of a vessel. This is necessary to allow the legal process of declaring a vessel “derelict” and providing the necessary notices.
Robert Rowe, the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section Leader, recently testified before the State Senate Budget Subcommittee regarding the costs and the time it takes to remove these derelict vessels. “It is a very expensive process,” Rowe stated. He testified that even the simplest removals can be between $7,000 and $10,000, with the more complicated ones from $30 to $50,000.
Besides being an eyesore, abandoned or derelict vessels can create a hazard to navigation and cause damage to the environment. As a boat deteriorates, it can release chemicals and oils which can destroy seagrasses, damaging coral, and other environmentally sensitive areas.
Within the next several weeks, those two vessels should no longer be an issue as they are removed.