The Headache of Removing Derelict Boats


What happens when a boat owner decides to abandon his vessel in the waters around Lee County and Fort Myers Beach? It’s a long process that sometimes frustrates those who use the water regularly, and have to see this massive litter lingering for months, or even years.

In order to remove a derelict vessel from Lee County waterways, it must first be reported to a local law enforcement agency to begin an investigation and subsequent determination if it is a derelict vessel. Through the investigative process, the last known registered owner or the responsible party of the vessel is sought out for being responsible. If found, they are notified of their rights to due process concerning the derelict determination and their responsibility to maintain or remove their vessel.

The town of Fort Myers Beach has also been working with other local agencies to help identify derelict vessels and work through the process of getting them removed. The town attorney has mentioned the issue at several town council meetings. That is an ongoing process that is also discussed by the Fort Myers Beach Anchorage Advisory committee.

Back to Lee County. Once the investigation is completed by law enforcement and the owner cannot be found or is unwilling or unable to remove the vessel, law enforcement authorizes Lee County to remove and dispose of the vessel. Once Lee County has the authorization, a request for bids is put out to the approved vendors. The low bidder is awarded a contract to remove and dispose of the vessel(s). Upon receiving required documentation, the county then pays the vendor.

Lee County is in the process of receiving a grant for $53,900 from FWC to remove and dispose of 9 boats all around the county. Next week the Lee County Board will vote to accept the money and authorize staff to remove the boats. Of those 9 boats one is located in the Fort Myers Beach area near Big Carlos Pass.

Here are where FWC has located derelict boats in all of Lee County