Massachusetts currently does not have a formal program to deal with abandoned vessels. The state does have state statutes that address abandoned vessels and a funding mechanism for removing abandoned and derelict vessels from public waterways, however, the state does not have dedicated personnel that deal specifically with these vessels.
Case Studies in the Region
In 2008, under an “Act relative to the disposition of abandoned vessels,” the Massachusetts Legislature authorized the establishment of the Abandoned Vessel Trust Fund (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 10 § 35GG). This fund was established to help fund the removal, by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, of abandoned vessels from public waterways. Monies for the trust fund are received from the sale of abandoned vessels and/or through appropriations from the State’s General Fund. Proceeds gained from the sale of abandoned vessels must be held in trust for 2 years and, if unclaimed by the owner of record, become the property of the Abandoned Vessel Trust Fund.
Massachusetts general law does contain numerous provisions, which were revised in 2010, that address abandoned vessels under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 91, § 38 thru § 48. These provisions are regulated by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, through the the Division of Waterways, and Environmental Police. The statutes address the willful abandonment of vessels, titling procedures and set penalties for persons who willfully abandon vessels.
Point of Contact
Within Massachusetts, the lead agency for the removal of abandoned vessels is the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Waterways Division. The Office of Law Enforcement (Environmental Police) is in charge of file searches and titling of abandoned vessels.