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FWC approves rule enabling grant-funded removal of at risk/public nuisance vessels

At its Nov. 30-Dec. 1 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a rule amendment allowing local governments to apply for and use grant funding from the Derelict Vessel Removal Grant Program for removal of at-risk/public nuisance vessels. Currently, the FWC’s Derelict Vessel Removal Grant Program allows local governments to apply for and use grant funding to remove, destroy and dispose of only derelict vessels.

A vessel is considered 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 left or stored aground unattended in such a state that would prevent the vessel from getting underway, is listing due to water intrusion, or is sunk or partially sunk.

Recent changes to Florida law provide that if a vessel owner is issued three citations within 18 months for the same at-risk condition, the vessel could be declared a public nuisance and may be removed using processes similar to the removal processes for derelict vessels.

“The FWC takes the quality and safety of our waterways very seriously. This change provides a means for vessels to be removed from the water before they become a danger to our public and our environment,” said FWC Boating and Waterways Section Leader Maj. Rob Beaton.

Removing at-risk/public nuisance vessels before they become derelict will save Florida taxpayers money. Removal costs for vessels still floating are significantly lower than costs for removing sunken derelict vessels. It will help protect Florida’s environment and the boating public. Derelict vessels can cause the destruction of valuable seagrass resources, endanger marine life and pose navigational hazards.

For more information regarding derelict and at-risk vessels, visit and click on “Waterway Management” and “Derelict Vessel Removal Program.”

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