Working with Boaters and Marine Trades for Cleaner Washington Water

What’s with these Derelict Vessels?

Maybe you heard about the recent high profile ships sinking in our waters in recent years (here and here) . That’s a big concern to us, and what’s even more problematic is that the owners skipped town. You should know that these infamous vessels are not recreational boats, but rather have ties to previous lives as a military or commercial watercraft.

Editorials have been written and lawmakers have taken action, but all too often all of us boaters are lumped together. Enough of that. To set the record straight, here are some facts (and some opinions) about the state’s Derelict Vessel Program, managed by the very effective Melissa Ferris and the Department of Natural Resources:

  • The recreational boating industry, the Recreational Boating Association of Washington, the Washington Public Ports Association and recreational boaters in general support getting derelict vessels out of the water. These groups have all been longtime supporters of the program, going back to its inception last decade.
  • Recreational boat owners, unlike commercial interests, pay a fee every time they register their vessel. That fee is $4.00 per boat. Again, it’s a great program, great administrator and the state sorely needs this money.
  • A backlog of recreational boats exists. The state believes there are 220 derelict recreational boats in our waters.
  • Captain Obvious here: The costs go up geometrically once a boat sinks. Let’s get the bad boats out of here and make room for real boaters.

Part of the legislation to renew the derelict-vessel-fee bill, which CBF did not  take a position on, was to develop a workgroup to help devise a system that incorporates commercial interests (and their money) to augment what the state already as (simple math: There are about 240,000 recreational boats in Washington state X the $4.00 fee = the amount of money in their annual “derelict” budget). Additionally, the state Legislature found $4.5 million in their recently-passed budget. Now, we’re talking.

Call to action: