At its July meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved the final rule establishing a statewide Vessel Turn-In Program (VTIP) as part of the Derelict Vessel Prevention Program. The new rule will create a voluntary program to remove at-risk vessels before they become derelict, which helps Florida’s environment and public safety.
The Division of Law Enforcement’s Boating and Waterways Section is spearheading a multi-year effort to dramatically reduce the backlog of derelict vessels currently on Florida’s waters. These vessels cause the destruction of valuable seagrass resources and endanger marine life. They also threaten human life, safety and property as they drift on or beneath the surface of the water or block navigable waterways, posing a navigational hazard to the boating public.
Recent legislation enables the FWC to create a Derelict Vessel Prevention Program, and the VTIP is one component of the FWC’s approach to derelict vessel prevention.
“Commissioners receive numerous contacts from the public about derelict vessels and I know the establishment of this new program will really make a difference,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “Thanks to the efforts of Senator Ben Albritton, Representative Josie Tomkow, Representative Jay Trumbull and Senator Kelli Stargel, we’ve received the resources and the legislative support to make this program a reality.”
Derelict vessels are more costly and complicated to remove than at-risk vessels. A VTIP will prevent vessels from becoming derelict by removing them from the state’s waters when they are at risk of becoming derelict, which will result in cost savings for taxpayers and ultimately fewer DVs appearing on Florida waters. The VTIP is designed to allow owners of vessels at risk of becoming derelict the ability to voluntarily turn the at-risk vessel over to the state for removal and destruction.
“Derelict vessels are a priority for the FWC. Establishing the Vessel Turn-In Program provides a voluntary pathway for owners to remove at-risk vessels from the water before becoming derelict, thereby reducing future costs of removal. Removing at-risk vessels from Florida’s waterways before they become derelict is not only a win for the environment but also for public safety, taxpayers and the vessel owners,” said Col. Roger Young, director of the FWC Division of Law Enforcement.