Coast Guard provide resources for boaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class TJ James and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Investigative Lieutenant James Holcomb address vessel removal questions from residents of Cooks Bayou in Panama City, Fla., Nov. 2, 2018. The Emergency Support Function-10 Unified Command, made up of the U.S. Coast Guard and the FWC, are collaborating to tackle pollution threats in areas affected by Hurricane Michael. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Paul Dragin.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class TJ James and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Investigative Lieutenant James Holcomb address vessel removal questions from residents of Cooks Bayou in Panama City, Fla., Nov. 2, 2018.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Paul Dragin.

MIRAMAR BEACH, FLA. — In the wake of Hurricane Michael, the top priority of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and other first responders has been public safety and welfare. Conserving Florida’s fish, wildlife and sensitive habitats is also critical, so the FWC has been working with the U.S. Coast Guard and other partners through a Unified Command based in Sandestin to ensure that boats displaced during the storm do not pose hazards for boaters or create negative impacts to the environment.

“Remember, displaced vessels are titled property and state law does not provide for ‘salvage rights’ within state waters” said Major. Rob Rowe, leader of FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “Working with your insurance company or the FWC/USCG Unified Command is the correct way to remove these vessels. Attempting to salvage a boat you do not own could be considered theft.”

Vessel owners who have located their vessel and have a specific plan to salvage it should call FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section at (850) 488-5600, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.—5:00 p.m.

Additionally, anyone witnessing an oil spill, chemical release or a maritime security incident should call the National Response Center hotline at (800) 424-8802.

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