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941.743.1200
18500 Murdock Circle
Port Charlotte, FL 33948

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Abandoned Vessels

abandoned sunken houseboatCharlotte County Board of County Commissioners approved an amendment in 2007, which was revised in 2015, Amendment 3-9-72.1 to the Charlotte County Administrative Code concerning the discovery and disposition of vessels that are abandoned, derelict or a hazard to navigation. This code change allowed the County to remove abandoned vessels under Florida Statute 705.103(2)(b).

Definitions

A derelict vessel (DV) is any vessel that is left, stored, or abandoned upon or under the waters of the State in a wrecked, junked, or substantially dismantled condition. F.S. 823.11(1)

An abandoned property (vessel) is any tangible property (vessel) that does not have an identifiable owner and that has been disposed of on public property in a wrecked, inoperative or partially dismantled condition or has no apparent intrinsic value to the rightful owner. F.S. 705.101(3)

To Report an Abandoned Vessel

abandoned sailboat being removed by contractor

Check the current List of Known Vessels on the FWCC Derelict Vessel website. If it is reported here, call the Charlotte County Natural Resources Office at 941.613.3220

If not on the list, call the FWCC Hotline at 888.404.FWCC (3922) and the Charlotte County Natural Resources Office at 941.613.3220 to report it. This will get the process started.

You may want to call your local Sheriff’s Office Non-emergency number as well at 941.639.2101. Please tell them that you have reported it to FWCC.

You may want to view the Interactive Map of Charlotte County's Abandoned Vessels.

Planning on Selling Your Vessel

Protect yourself, State Law requires the seller to notify Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) about the transaction. The Law requires that you notify DHSMV within 30 days of the sale. Don’t rely on the new owner.

Vessel Owner/Operator’s Responsibilities

Vessel Registration: All vessels used on the waters of the state must be registered. F.S. 328.48(2) A Vessel must be in good working order, capable of moving and navigating under its own power (motor or wind).

Boating Safety Equipment: The owner and operator of every vessel on the waters of this state shall carry, store, maintain and use safety equipment in accordance with the current USCG requirements. F.S. 327.50(1)(a)

Marine Sanitation: Every vessel 26 feet or more with enclose cabin, or houseboat, or floating structure with enclosed living space shall install and maintain a toilet with storage capability as to prohibit discharge of raw sewage into the waters of the state. F.S. 327.53(1)(2)(3)(4)

Litter Law: Dumping litter (whether accidental or intentional) is prohibited. F.S. 403.413(4)(b)(6)

Mooring: All vessels are to be moored in a way as to maintain the submerged lands in its natural condition. F.S. 253.037(1) A mooring light is required in accordance with the current USCG.

View Charlotte County's Abandoned Vessel Brochure here.

Benefits of a Derelict and/or Abandoned Vessel Program

Water Quality: To remove or reduce point source pollution. Vessels that have not been maintained properly are moving sources of pollution with bilge water collecting leaking sewage, oil, and fuel which is then pumped out of the vessel directly into the marine environment.

Degradation of Marine Habitat: To maintain and promote a pristine habitat for future generations of aquatic organisms. Vessels that are stored or moored for long periods of time in one place have recently been found to contribute to the demise of the benthic fauna and flora, which reduce fish populations in the area.

Health and Safety Risks to Swimmers: To protect the health and safety of the public. Vessels that are leaking, degraded, and assaulted regularly by storms are not only a chemical risk but also a physical peril to the general public by means of vessel pieces and debris.

Safety Hazard to Boaters: To protect the safe navigation of boaters throughout the area. Vessels that are moored and not regularly maintained or managed become obstructions to other vessels traveling through the area.

Eyesore: To increase the environmental appeal of the area for citizens and visitors alike. Vessels that are degraded and unsightly damage the appearance of the natural landscape which may deter people from visiting the area.

Support

The abandoned vessel program is supported by:

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