Florida commission honored with Innovation Award

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received the Innovations Award earlier this week at the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators' conference.

Capt. Richard Moore and Phil Horning of the commission’s Boating and Waterways section accepted the award, which is sponsored by Kalkomey Enterprises, the parent company of Boat Ed.

NASBLA and Boat Ed established the Innovations Award as a way to recognize and bring more visibility to programs or projects that use new approaches to encourage safe boating,” vice president of product development Cindy Kalkomey said in a statement. “The fact that we had more Innovations Award submissions this year than ever before tells us there’s a great deal of ground-breaking work being done on behalf of safe boating. Florida should feel very proud of their award-winning initiative.”

The commission received the award for developing a statewide at-risk vessel application. The application was placed into effect to deal with abandoned and derelict boats. The cost- and time-saving initiative aims to identify what could be future problem boats and provides a process to deal with those boats before they become a major issue.

“This application is a proactive tool to help identify boats that are either violating current boating safety or registration laws or are poised to someday become derelict,” said Moore, Florida’s boating law administrator. “Marine law enforcement officers identify such boats and prompt a process to prevent future issues. A statewide online map allows the public to check on boats of concern and provide assistance in preventing such boats becoming an issue down the road.”

The FWC said the program is growing. More participating officers has meant more information is collected and available, which helps state officials identify trends and patterns related to at-risk and derelict vessels. The success of Florida’s program is one that can be duplicated in other states.

“I feel so blessed to receive this award. It recognizes and forwards collaboration between agencies. Awards like this help drive safety programs to continually improve,” Horning, who is Florida’s derelict vessel program administrator, said in a statement. “We are always glad to share resources with other agencies and hope that we can help them set up similar programs.”

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