Derelict boat sinking in a lake.


Wisconsin does not have a formal or funded program to address abandoned or derelict vessels. The state does have a collection of laws that address abandoned and unattended vessels, obstructions to navigation and public nuisances.

Legislative Summary

Wisconsin statutes, under Title 30, make it unlawful for any person to anchor, place, affix or abandon any unattended vessel in the traveled portion of any river or channel or in any established traffic lane that obstructs navigation. The provisions under Title 30 also address notification procedures, removal and disposal requirements, and liability.

Funding Summary

The State of Wisconsin does not have a dedicated funding source for addressing abandoned or derelict vessels. Removing abandoned or derelict vessels is paid for by the municipalities with jurisdiction, unless the owners can be identified and are able to pay for the removal. Municipalities can recover, by personal action, all costs, charges and expenses associated with the removal of an abandoned or derelict vessel that is obstructing navigation from the vessel owners.

POC Summary

Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources is the lead agency for administering the laws under Chapter 30 (Navigable Waters, Harbors and Navigation) and Chapter 31 (Regulations of Dams) and of the state’s statutes.

Last updated Tue, 03/19/2024 - 05:34 pm EDT