US Coast Guard, FWC begin removing derelict, abandoned boats damaged by Irma

By Todd Tongen - Anchor/Reporter

MIAMI - The U.S. Coast guard, in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, began the tedious task Thursday of removing derelict and abandoned boats damaged by Hurricane Irma.

After the storm swept through, many boats came loose from their moorings and were pushed to shore, They were left damaged or swamped from the storm surge.

After the Coast Guard assesses the vessels they will begin removing the highest-priority boats first, due to location or leaking fuel.

Crews with cranes aboard barges put pollution booms out and in some cases may need to offload fuel and secure other toxic items on board, like batteries and fluids.

Responders will be placing assessment stickers on the vessels, requesting the owners to contact them. The sticker also includes a tracking number so boat owners can be reunited with their vessels.

If your boat is beyond repair, you can release ownership to the FWC through a waiver. Recovered boats will be stored at Watson Island and the Seminole boat ramp.

"In the greater Miami region, we have right now over 200 vessels that need to be mitigated," U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Tom Pequignot said. "If for one reason or another the boat owner is unable to remove the vessel, the state has tapped into federal funding to make sure these vessels or these potential threats are mitigated for the environment."

If you see a nuisance vessel or one impacting the environment, or you can't remove your own damaged boat, call the vessel removal hotline at 305-985-3744.

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