SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — This month local crews will begin work on a new project to remove abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) along the North Carolina coastline, funded by a combination of state and federal sources.
Aside from being unsightly, ADVs often contain pollution, including fuel and other hazardous materials that may remain on board that can leach into sensitive marine habitats. They can also pose a threat to safety, navigation, and public health.
Often displaced by hurricanes, ADVs can litter local shorelines for years. Local and state governments have advanced policies in recent years to make removing the abandoned boats easier while still honoring the owners’ rights.
Last year and in 2019, Governor Roy Cooper signed legislation that funded and permitted state partners to remove the vessels. The new laws allow the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to determine a vessel abandoned after an unsuccessful attempt to contact the last known owner and a posted notice on the vessel goes unanswered.
After Division of Coastal Management and North Carolina Coastal Federation officials assessed, documented, and prioritized the vessels, NCWRC tagged them for removal.
The nonprofit N.C. Coastal Federation is hiring crews to remove 80 vessels identified along the entire coastline. WRC has identified at least 20 along the tri-county southeastern coastline, according to its database.
The current project is being funded by a $1 million 2019 state appropriation, NOAA’s marine debris removal program, and USDA’s emergency watershed protection program.
“For the first time ever, North Carolina is mounting a comprehensive effort to rid our coast of these broken-down boats that blight our coast. The federal, state and local partners and multiple funders, along with support from the N.C. General Assembly, have come together to make this happen. We are enthusiastic about the removal of so many vessels posing environmental, health and economic risks to our coast,” Todd Miller, the federation’s executive director, said in a press release.
Since Hurricane Florence, the Coastal Federation has overseen the removal of more than 910 tons of marine debris, funded by state and federal contracts.
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