To the Editor:
Following Hurricane Ian’s landfall, vessel owners were given a 45-day grace period to bring derelict vessels into compliance or remove them from state waters. The grace period ended November 15. The number of impacted vessels is significant, and many residents are still assessing damages. Taking these factors into consideration, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has decided to extend the waiver acceptance deadline through the end of December.
Owners are still encouraged to hire a salvage company themselves to recover their vessel and to provide the safest method possible for the vessel and the environment. Vessel owners may release ownership of a displaced vessel through the waiver process if they don’t have the resources to salvage or bring the vessel out of derelict status themselves. The FWC will then facilitate the removal and destruction of the vessel, and owners will not be charged for removal costs. This process can be initiated by contacting the FWC through the Hurricane Ian Vessel Hotline at (850) 488-5600 and requesting to turn over a derelict vessel. An FWC representative will then contact the owner to explain the waiver process and facilitate the potential turnover of ownership.
Over 4,000 vessels have been assessed, and more than 500 of the vessels assessed are derelict. The number is expected to change as more vessels are discovered and assessed or vessels are removed by owners or insurance companies. If your vessel is missing or you have located a vessel on state waters displaced by the hurricane, report it to the Hurricane Ian Vessel Hotline.
The Division of Emergency Management (DEM) has assumed the role of coordinating the removal and disposal of vessels investigated by the FWC in Lee and Charlotte counties. DEM has worked closely with the FWC, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Coast Guard and local governments to identify and remove debris from waterways and upland private and commercial properties. The newly created State Debris Cleanup Program will assist Hurricane Ian survivors with the removal of displaced and abandoned titled property. Residents can request the removal of debris including vehicles, vessels, motorcycles, trailers and ATVs. To make a request, visit IanDebrisCleanup.com to report the presence of debris. For additional information about Hurricane Ian and for county updates, visit leegov.com/storm.
FWC main office