Abandoned vessel legislation debated in Mass.

MILTON, Mass. – The Massachusetts Legislature is considering a bill that allows boatyard and marina owner and operators to quickly and affordably dispose of, or sell, derelict and abandoned vessels on their property, the Massachusetts Marine Trade Association reported in a recent release.

The Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture held a public hearing yesterday.

MMTA, which supports the bill, said HB1399 would amend existing laws to allow marinas and boatyards, with reasonable judicial process, to obtain title to certain vessels abandoned on private property that have remained unclaimed, represent a potential environmental liability, and for which efforts to seek remedy from the owner have been unproductive.

The legislation would streamline the process for lien holders to legally dispose of or sell abandoned vessels and those vessels on which payment for storage and services rendered are delinquent, MMTA said.

“This legislation is critical to the safe operation and environmental soundness of marinas and boatyards throughout Massachusetts,” said Greg Glavin, MMTA president. “Abandoned vessels on private land are an anchor fastened to the ankles of the countless small marine business owners forced to accommodate them. With affordable boat storage facilities fast disappearing, we simply cannot afford the space to warehouse these derelict boats.”

If passed, HB1399 would permit filing legal proceedings in district court, in addition to the existing superior court jurisdiction. The bill also contains a provision that when a land-abandoned vessel is sold for more than the past due storage and repair fees, the “excess” money would go into a Commonwealth fund for removing water-abandoned vessels.

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