Florida has a derelict vessel program that is managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which provides coordination for the removal of these vessels. The program includes legislation and procedures addressing the removal of derelict vessels from state waters. Florida’s ADV program does not address the taking of abandoned vessels that occur on private property, which must be dealt with through abandoned property laws of the state of Florida. In addition to the derelict vessel laws, Florida started a Vessel-at-Risk program in 2010 that focuses on law enforcement personnel identifying and notifying owners of vessels that are at risk of becoming derelict.
Under Florida law s. 376.15, the FWC may set up a program to provide grants for the removal of derelict vessels from the public waters of the state. Funds for the Derelict Vessel Removal Grant program are appropriated from the Florida Coastal Protection Trust Fund. Grants from this fund are awarded based on a set of criteria outlined in chapter 68-1.003 of the Florida Administrative Code. However, only local governments in Florida are eligible for this grant program; private citizens or corporations are not eligible and must pay for the removal or relocation if the vessel is located on private property. Funding for this grant program is not guaranteed and must be appropriated through state budget processes. Florida also has a Boating Improvement Program that provides funds through a competitive grant process that can be used for the cleanup and removal of derelict vessels, but is also only open to county governments, municipalities and other governmental entities of the state.
Florida’s ADV program is legislated through Florida Statutes for derelict Vessels under s. 823.11 and s. 376.15. This legislation makes it unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to store, leave or abandon any derelict vessel in the state. It authorizes and empowers the FWC, its officers or any law enforcement agency/officer to relocate, remove or cause the removal or relocation of any derelict vessel in the state. FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement is also directed under General Order 21, to remove any abandoned or derelict vessel from public waters that is a hazard to navigation, a threat to the environment or a public safety issue. Under s. 823.11, the owner of a derelict vessel is liable for all costs arising out of the relocation or removal of the vessel from state waters. Abandoned vessels, including those found on private property, are not addressed specifically in Florida law but are dealt with under the abandoned property laws of the state.
Point of Contact
Florida’s ADV Program is administered by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which then delegates authority for the removal and/or disposal of the vessel in question to the relevant enforcement or governmental agency. The FWC can be contacted by phone at 850-488-5600 or by email through their website (http://myfwc.com/).