A view from high up looking over Richardson Bay in California during a sunrise.

Cleaning up Richardson Bay One Vessel at a Time

Richardson’s Bay Regional Agency removed approximately 364 metric tons of abandoned and derelict vessels from Richardson Bay, located within the San Francisco Bay area.

Type of Project: Removal 

Region: California

Project Dates: August 2019 - August 2020

Who was involved?
With the support of a NOAA Marine Debris Program, Richardson’s Bay Regional Agency worked to remove deteriorated and unseaworthy vessels from Richardson Bay, located within the San Francisco Bay, to preserve and protect local natural resources such as eelgrass beds, herring, and migratory birds.

What was the project and why was it important?
Without the prevention or removal of abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs), such vessels will likely sink, leak contaminants, discharge debris, or release hazardous materials into San Francisco Bay. If an ADV is anchored or moored to a particular location, they run the risk of breaking free and drifting off to other parts of the Bay or shore, damaging resources and becoming a navigational hazard. 

This project focused on the removal of abandoned or derelict vessels between 18 and 50 feet in length. These vessels, both gas powered and sailboat, were made of a variety of materials, such as fiberglass, steel, wood, and/or a composite material made up of mortar and light wire steel mesh.

What were the project results?
Unoccupied ADVs were prioritized for removal in accordance with the State of California Marine Debris Disposal Process (Sections 550-552 of the California Harbors and Navigation Code). Vessels were towed to the Army Corps of Engineers dock in Sausalito and independently surveyed by a marine surveyor for overall condition and value. Richardson’s Bay Regional Agency staff determined whether the vessel was unseaworthy and whether its value was less than the cost of removal and disposal. Vessels confirmed to be marine debris were hauled out of the water and into the debris yard for dismantling and disposal. A total of 62 abandoned and derelict vessels were removed from Richardson Bay, exceeding the project goal of 25 vessels. Richardson’s Bay Regional Agency disposed of more than 800,000 pounds of solid materials and 820 gallons of fuel. In addition to efforts to notify vessel owners and remove vessels, volunteers conducted outreach to advise boat owners on how to prevent vessels from becoming marine debris, and in some cases, assisted the Richardson’s Bay Regional Agency Harbormaster with education and abatement. 

For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.

Last updated Thu, 02/02/2023 - 04:20 pm EST