By: Dianna Parker
Abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) are a major problem for states where boating is a part of life. With increasing frequency, boats of all sizes are becoming abandoned and derelict, and they have a negative impact on recreational boating and fishing, leisure activities, and the environment.
Removing an ADV from the water isn’t as simple as, say, towing a broken-down car. The vessel can contain hazardous materials that must be taken out first by trained personnel and are often found either in shallow, difficult to reach areas, or in deep waters in a decrepit state. This requires large specialized equipment (i.e. barges and cranes) to lift, transport, and remove the ADV. Vessel registration laws vary state-to-state, and in some cases, agencies may not even know the ADV’s owner. Removal is an expensive and complicated process, and often no one entity has the ability to do it alone.
That’s why last week, 52 representatives from 15 states, four federal agencies, and Canada gathered at NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center for a workshop on ADVs. The goal was to share information on the best ways to deal with ADVs so that stakeholders could implement ideas back home. The workshop participants brought a wealth of experience, traded success stories and challenges, and made valuable connections.
Despite the challenges, there’s a lot of work going on across the regions to address this problem. The NOAA Marine Debris Program supports a number of ADV removal projects in U.S. states and territories, including Coral Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charleston Harbor in South Carolina, and Palm Beach County shorelines in Florida. Some groups are just getting started, but others have claimed victory with removals in Dog River in Alabama, Fordson Island in Michigan, and San Diego Bay in California. And of course, there’s significant work going on in Northeastern states to remove ADVs that were lost as a result of Sandy.
Those are just a few of the many, many projects and ADV programs across the country. This week, we’ll share a few more highlights – including an incredible story out of the Dog River project, where the project leads blew all expectations away. Stay tuned.