Derelict boating law signed by Gov. DeSantis
Boats sit on the beach in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Gulfport. Image via AP.

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Lawmakers and agency heads said the new law will improve public safety and water quality.

Legislation clamping down on derelict boats in Florida waters has now been signed into law. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the legislation (SB 1086).

Lawmakers and agency heads said the new law will improve public safety and water quality in the state’s important waterways.

“Many thanks to Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for passing this important legislation,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chair Rodney Barreto.  “As the boating capital of the world, Florida is leading the way in protecting and preserving the safety and quality of our waterways.  This law gives us the tools we need to keep people safe and protect our natural resources for years to come.”

The Legislature included $50 million with .the bill for programs to help remove those boats from the water.

Rep. Tyler Sirois, a Merritt Island Republican, said the bill would address many issues plaguing coastal communities.

“Derelict and abandoned vessels are a real public safety problem in Brevard County and across our state,” he said. “This legislation will provide Florida Fish and Wildlife and our law enforcement partners the tools to intervene before these vessels sink— carrying fuel, sewage and fiberglass to the bottom of the river. During a storm event these vessels can cause severe damage to docks, seawalls, and other structures. The legislation designates Florida’s 42 aquatic preserves as no-marine sewage discharge zones. This designation includes all of the Banana River and significant portions of the Indian River Lagoon.”

Hutson said it provided an important step forward for restoring water quality.

“I am excited to have this bill coming into law this week,” the St. Augustine Republican said. “It is going to go a long way toward increasing boater safety in our state.”

In addition to budgeting cleanup, it also offers incentives for boaters not to leave derelict vessels in the first place, streamlines the ability for law enforcement to access and relocate ships, and authorizes FWC to hold those who abandon boats responsible for the costs of removal, storage, destruction and disposal of the derelict property.

The bill also sets up restricted zones, and it boosts penalties for boaters refusing to submit to breath or urine tests after a DUI, limits Intercoastal Waterway access, requires safety training as part of renting a boat, and limits mooring around marinas and superyacht facilities, among other changes.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Robert Kinchen

    July 1, 2021 at 10:32 am

    Give salvage right back to the public and a lot of these boats will be gone at no cost to the state. There have been a few that I was interested in, but the amount of Red Tape, the cost, and the hoops I had to jump through was just to much.

  • Cruiser

    July 3, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    I am all for removing derelicts. The issue here, that this auther failed to dig up is that this is likely to make it harder for legitimate cruisers to anchor in our waterways.

Comments are closed.


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