Derelict Vessels

If you suspect a specific vessel is abandoned or derelict please contact FWC dispatch, 1-888-404-3922 or Brevard County Sheriff's Marine Unit, 633-7130 or email Brevard County Sheriff's Special Ops or the Natural Resources Management Office.

Local Government Approaches to Derelict Vessel Removal

Prepared by: Conservation Clinic, Center for Governmental Responsibility, University of Florida College of Law

Andrew Hand, J.D. Candidate

Local Government Approaches to Derelict Vessel Removal (also known as the Derelict Vessel Process Flowchart) is a flowchart defining the process for identifying and removing derelict vessels.  It was first published on December 18, 2006 by the University of Florida College of Law Conservation Clinic and modified by the Brevard County Natural Resources Management Office on September 13, 2007 to accommodate local differences.  It was subsequently approved by the the Brevard Marine Advisory Council.

Abandoned vessels of any size become a disposal problem whether on land, at dock or sunk. The ownership must be determined and this task can be time consuming:

  1. Stolen boats are often striped, then dumped in isolated areas or sunk in our waterways
  2. Untransferred titles—not all state title laws are the same. If the title was never transferred the original owner is still the legal owner
  3. Documented vessels titled by the US Coast Guard
  4. Foreign vessels
  5. Non-motorized vessels could be barges or sailing vessels without any mechanical power.

When ownership has been determined, legal custody of the vessel must be transferred to a responsible party for disposition. Some owners are willing to sign over the title, saving time and money. Many other owners will not be able to be located. Legal action will be necessary at that point.

If the vessel is to be placed at a county landfill, it must meet their requirements. Fuel and oil tanks must be removed, engines and batteries must be removed, old paint and chemicals must be removed.

Sunken vessels are the biggest problems to solve. Before they can be salvaged, any material that could degrade water quality must be removed. If grass beds are present, workers will need to take extra caution.

Some vessels may be in such poor condition, they have to be cut up where they lay. After the vessel has been raised and moved, a bottom clean up is mandatory to make sure there is not any foreign material left.

Abandoned vessels usually do not have any value. Any machinery this old most likely does not work. Hardware will cost more in labor to remove than it will bring in resale or scrap. Vessels with metal hulls have to be cut into small pieces before a scrap yard will buy them. Recovery is not cost effective.

This is a partial list of the problems that are involved when abandoned/derelict vessels are encountered on our streets or waterways. Other circumstances do come up to make removal even more costly and time consuming.