Since the inception of The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Vessel Turn-In Program in late 2022, the FWC has received 28 applications from owners of at-risk or unwanted vessels. The first two vessels removed through this program were removed from Pasco and Pinellas County in early March.
VTIP is a key component of Florida’s derelict vessel prevention program. This voluntary program is designed to help owners dispose of their unwanted at-risk vessels before they become derelict. Upon approval of an application, VTIP will take a surrendered vessel and dispose of it at no cost to the boat owner. Removing the vessel before it deteriorates into a derelict condition will prevent legal ramifications for the vessel owner, protect Florida’s valuable seagrass resources, marine life and human life, safety, and property, and save Florida taxpayers money.
To qualify for VTIP, a vessel must be floating upon waters of the state of Florida and cannot be determined derelict by law enforcement. The owner must have at least one written warning or citation for an at-risk condition and possess a clear title to the vessel. For the Florida statute, visit leg.state.fl.us/statutes and enter 327.4107 in the “Search” field.
Both of the vessels removed received prior warnings. The 1972 40-foot Uniflite cabin motorboat removed from Pasco County waters was taking on water without an effective means to dewater. The 1985 26-foot Tanzer sailboat removed from Pinellas County waters broke loose or was in danger of breaking loose from its anchor.
“We hope that vessel owners will take advantage of this process,” said Phil Horning, VTIP Administrator. “It is an easy and free way to have their at-risk vessels removed from waters of the state before the vessel becomes derelict and the owner faces potential legal action.”
The FWC is actively taking applications from at-risk vessel owners for the Vessel Turn-In Program. Vessel owners can call VTIP specialists at the FWC for more information on the program at 850-488-5600 or find more information on the FWC website at MyFWC.com/boating and clicking on “Vessel Turn-In Program” on the second slider at the top of the page.