Saving Biscayne Bay: Miami-Dade starts to remove abandoned vessels

MIAMI – Miami-Dade County took another step on Friday to take care of Biscayne Bay, the largest estuary on the coast of southeast Florida.

Miami-Dade Police Department’s illegal dumping unit scanned the bay in search of abandoned vessels. Officers used a crane on a barge, a shoal-draft flat-bottomed boat. The team included divers.

“Abandoned or derelict vessels continue to be a problem in Biscayne Bay ... causing pollution, trash and overall navigational hazards to the waterways,” Detective Andre Martin said.

The crew removed five vessels from the bay on their first day. The department’s operation was in collaboration with Miami-Dade County’s Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources, and it is just beginning.

“We currently have numerous investigations and operations pending to remove more abandoned and derelict vessels,” Martin said.

Abandoned vessels have been identified by the Biscayne Bay Task Force as a big contributor to the declining health of the bay. Biscayne Bay is at a fragile tipping point due to the massive amounts of land-based pollutants entering the watershed including sewerage spills, septic tank leaks, and tons plastic of waste.

There were alarming signs this past year including beds of seagrass dying at an alarming rate, an unprecedented widespread fish kill, and devastating algae bloom.

Officers are asking witnesses of illegal dumping to call 311 or to visit this site to report it.


About the Author:

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.