Abandoned and derelict vessels can be a problem on our local waterways for many reasons. They can be hazards to navigation, create environmental impacts, and detract from the boating experience. This situation is not unique to Lee County. As such, investigation is the primary responsibility of the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and removal is coordinated as a regional effort by the
West Coast Inland Navigation District (WCIND).
Generally speaking, a derelict vessel (DV) is a boat that cannot function under its own power; an abandoned vessel (AV) has been abandoned on or under public waters. Once law enforcement suspects a boat to be derelict or abandoned, they begin an investigation. Every effort is made to contact the last known registered owner and hold the responsible parties accountable before expending any public funds for removal. If they are unable to find the owner and have the owner remove the vessel, it is turned over to WCIND contractors for removal.
An average of 60 abandoned or derelict vessels are removed from Lee County waters every year. Many of these vessels are navigation or environmental hazards and require rapid removal. Less serious vessels may sit for long periods of time while investigations are completed or funds are used for higher priority removals.
If you encounter a boat that cannot function under its own power or appears to have been abandoned on or under state waters, please let us know. Certain details are helpful to beginning an investigation, including:
- Vessel description (type, size, make, model, etc.)
- Vessel location (descriptive, street address, and latitude/longitude if known)
- Registration numbers and vessel name, if visible
- Pictures, if available
- Why you believe it is derelict or abandoned (remember, an ugly boat is not necessarily derelict)
- Your contact information
When you have the above information, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to report your concerns at 888-404-3922.
The last known registered owner of a vessel is legally responsible for it. By supplying the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV) a completed form HSMV 82050 you are protecting yourself from future legal problems. This form notifies the DMV of the sale and allows them to update its database to reflect the title as “sold”, thereby relieving you of legal responsibility.
Click on the following link to view or print form HSMV 82050:
Then submit this form to the tax collector’s office or click here for more information: