North Carolina looking at action plans for derelict boats

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Boats removed from waters around Beaufort, N.C. in 2018. Photo: Beaufort town government.

Boats removed from waters around Beaufort, N.C. in 2018. Photo: Beaufort town government.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has recommended putting a state agency in charge of removing and managing derelict and abandoned boats in navigable North Carolina waters. A recent report recommends having dedicated funding to the problem.

According to the Coastal Review Online, the state of North Carolina has given local governments limited authority to determine how and when an abandoned boat can be removed. Local officials, however, continue to struggle with derelict vessels that have negative impacts on the environment and navigations.

In 2018, the North Carolina General Assembly directed the WRC to provide the report because of the growing concern over abandoned vessels. It was also instructed to consult the Division of Coastal Management, North Carolina Coastal Federation, NOAA’s Marine Debris program, marine salvage experts and other stakeholders.

In addition to naming a lead state agency to manage the problem, the report recommends establishing a WRC-coordinated task force for abandoned and derelict vessels. It also calls for enacting a law defining and addressing ADVs statewide with disposal options and vessel-owner notification protocols and rights. Finally, the report suggests establishing education, outreach and preservation programs including a vessel turn-in program similar to those used in other states.

The report used NOAA’s ADV InfoHub, a website that describes how ADVs are handled by each coastal state, as a launch point, compiling existing information on state programs and fact sheets for each state as of 2015. Since then, several states have enacted legislation and provided funding to support ADV programs.

At the federal level, NOAA is the lead agency on ADVs and the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency also play a role. For the most part, dealing with derelict vessels falls to local authorities.