Take Five, at one time, Florida had a large, very effective artificial reef program, one that took derelict boats, both sail and power, stripped the engines and fuel tanks out, then took the boats to designated areas and sunk them, often in depths of just 35 to 50 feet. Within a couple years, you would be hard pressed to find a square inch of the boat that was not covered with marine growth. The sunken craft provided an incredible reef system that attracted and protected juvenile fish and predators alike. The boats, mostly confiscated drug runner boats and derelict live aboards, that used to be seen on a regular basis, soon pretty much disappeared from the scene. And opponents of the reef program managed to get the program scrapped.
Several other states had similar programs and funding, while somewhat limited, was still more than sufficient to remove several hundred boats every year. Last fall, a nice looking 44 foot powerboat, trawler looking boat, was abandoned in the Susquehanna River at the north end of Garrett Island. It sat there till about October, when a sailboat, looked like a 25 footer, was also abandoned and tied to a cleat of the power boat. The powerboat eventually filled with rainwater and sunk, leaving only the top of the cabin exposed, the sailboat broke loose and drifted downriver and lodged against the railroad bridge at Perryville until someone towed it to the newly constructed municipal piers and tied it up. It soon filled with rainwater and sunk at the dock, leaving only the mast sticking out of the water. When I called Maryland DNR about the boats they said they would contact the appropriate authorities, which was likely the USCG. However, when I talked with the USCG, they said because the boats did not pose a navigational hazard, they would not be taking any action to remove them. Maryland DNR no longer has a fund to deal with derelict boats.
On both boats, I was told the serial and hull numbers were all ground off so the owners could not be identified. This was the case with hundreds of derelict boats anchored in San Francisco Bay. California has funded a removal program but can only remove about 300 boats a year, which is about half the number of new derelicts they see every year.
Keep in mind that Florida has a huge number of recreational and commercial vessels within the state. While there are some folks that paint pictures of half sunken boats to sell and think they look quaint, the owners of those multimillion dollar homes are not of similar ilk - can you blame them. The legislation they proposed won't solve the derelict boat problem, and for the most part, doesn't even address the issue at all.
Just another fun day in boaters paradise,