Crews continue to mitigate pollution threats from vessels displaced by Hurricane Irma

A vessel displaced by Hurricane Irma is located and assigned an Assessment Sticker in the area of Dinner Key, near Miami, Oct. 4, 2017. Boaters are urged to exercise extreme caution in ports and waterways affected by Hurricane Irma, as navigational hazards have been created by the storm. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen.

A vessel displaced by Hurricane Irma is located and assigned an Assessment Sticker in the area of Dinner Key, near Miami  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen.

MIAMI – Cleanup efforts and removal operations of displaced vessels are progressing throughout Florida waterways ten weeks after Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys.

The Unified Command for the response—officially titled Emergency Support Function 10 (ESF-10) Florida—consists of leaders from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Currently, 1,879 displaced vessels have been removed from Florida waterways. Approximately 180 people from state and federal agencies are involved in the disaster response.

Responders are prioritizing the removal of vessels based on potential environmental impact.

“After removing 270 displaced vessels in the Branch St. Petersburg area, ESF-10 crews have completed Hurricane Irma related removal operations on the West Coast of Florida,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brownie Kuk, Coast Guard Incident Commander for ESF-10 Florida. “Removal operations continue on the Florida’s East Coast and in the Keys, and we are working closely with our partner agencies to ensure the safety of our responders and the preservation of the local environment.”

Vessel owners are encouraged to hire a salvage company to recover their vessels in order to provide the safest removal method possible for the public and environment. Owners wishing to remove their own vessels are encouraged to visit the following website for guidelines and best practices http://myfwc.com/boating/vessel-hotline/removal.

Owners of displaced vessels who lack the resources to have their boat repaired, or if their vessel is determined to be beyond repair, may release ownership of their vessel through a waiver provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The waiver process can be initiated by contacting FWC through the Vessel Removal Hotline at 305-985-3744 and requesting to turn over a displaced vessel. An FWC representative will then contact the owner to explain the waiver process and facilitate the potential turnover of ownership.

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