Boat owners whose vessels have been damaged and destroyed by Hurricane Ian, but are unable to pay costs for salvage and disposal, could get help from the state under a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Hurricane Ian waiver program, but time is running out to apply.
The waivers, which require boat owners to release ownership of the vessel, are for the removal and destruction of their Hurricane Ian-damaged vessels. Owners must apply by Tuesday, November 15, by calling the FWC Hurricane Ian Vessel Hotline at 850-488-5600 and request to turn over their derelict vessels. An FWC representative will then explain the waiver process and facilitate the potential turnover of ownership.
If a derelict vessel is not brought into compliance by Nov. 15, it will be treated as any other derelict vessel. An FWC press release acknowledges, “FWC will not be charging displaced vessel owners with a criminal violation of Florida Law, but the decision to hold (derelict) vessel owners responsible for removal, destruction and disposal cost could be made at a future date.”
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) manager of government Affairs David Kennedy said, “For those who are unable to take care of their destroyed boats, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get help. Owners will not be charged for any removal costs. It will also help the environment, improve navigation and rid our waterways of harmful eyesores that linger after each storm. We greatly thank FWC for making this opportunity available.”
The FWC waiver program targets vessels left by the storm in public waterways only. As of November 4, FWC reports that 50 waivers had been received for affected boat owners in the Lee County area.
“Every boat owner is responsible for the salvage of their vessel, but if you can’t, we urge you to contact the FWC hotline immediately,” added Kennedy.