Derelict Vessels in Florida

Pursuant to § 823.11(3), Fla. Stat., specified law enforcement officers are authorized to relocate, remove, or cause to be relocated or removed a derelict vessel from public waters if the derelict vessel obstructs or threatens to obstruct navigation or in any way constitutes a danger to the environment, property, or persons.

Section 327.70, Fla. Stat., identifies the law enforcement officers empowered to order the removal of vessels deemed an interference or a hazard to public safety.

A vessel can be declared “derelict” by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In other cases, the city will declare the vessel to be derelict pursuant to a delegation by the Commission.

Alternatively, authorized local law enforcement officers have the authority to order the removal of vessels deemed a hazard to navigation. § 327.70, Fla. Stat.

The costs incurred by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission FWC to remove or relocate the derelict vessel are recoverable against the vessel owner as explained in § 823.11(3)(b), Fla. Stat.

The vessel’s owner might also face criminal liability and an administrative fine that might be imposed due to unauthorized action regarding the salvage and abandoned or wrecked vessels.

For instance, pursuant to Florida Statute Section 376.15(2), it is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to store, leave, or abandon any derelict vessel as defined in s. 823.11 in Florida.

Under 376.15(3)(a), any costs, including costs owed to a third party, incurred by the commission or other law enforcement agency in the relocation or removal of any abandoned or derelict vessel are recoverable against the owner of the vessel.

The Department of Legal Affairs represents the Commission in actions to recover such costs as provided in § 823.11(3)(b), Fla. Stat.

In addition to any other actions that can be taken under Florida law, any person who neglects or refuses to pay the costs may not be issued a certificate of registration for the vessel or for any other vessel or motor vehicle until such costs have been paid. See § 823.11(3)(b), Fla. Stat.

Attorney for Derelict Vessels in Florida

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm can represent a vessel owner accused of a crime related to a derelict vessel in Florida. We also represent clients on a variety of issues related to owning and operating a vessel or boat on the waterways in Florida.

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm can help you avoid civil or criminal liability for a derelict vessel.

We can also help you negotiate a settlement to resolve any dispute with the Department of Legal Affairs, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or a local law enforcement agency.

Call 813-250-0500.

This article was last updated on Friday, April 15, 2022.