MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- The City of Bradenton Beach is cracking down on derelict vessels anchored in the bay. The move for stricter regulation comes as residents along the bay speak out.
The number of boats in the harbor in Bradenton Beach has nearly doubled, and with that increase came more derelict vessels, causing not only damage to the pier but also frustration among residents and boat owners.
In his 25 years living on the bay, Ryan Pecora says he's experienced the negative impact of abandoned vessels. "It happens quite often; and in storms, when it's floating loose, this large vessel, 20-30 foot long…it can do damage."
Pecora's private dock on 12th Street south sits next to the public city dock where just recently he noticed a derelict vessel floating aimlessly, hitting his boat. "You can see right out here, our boats, which are up on a lift were struck by this drifting sailboat, a 25-foot long sailboat, with no mast, no rudder, no apparent owner, and has expired tags on it."
The city says it had to act after there were several incidents involving derelict vessels, including extensive damage to the Bridge Street Pier during a storm, and an explosion on board an abandoned vessel.
"On a regular basis, our patrol officers will go out and cite the boats to make sure that they are registered in the state of Florida," says Bradenton Beach mayor Bill Shearon.
By law, any boat in the state for 90 days has to be registered with the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. “Sometimes the owner of the boat isn't necessarily living on the boat. There might be somebody else. It might be a friend of his."
The city says they are paying more attention to live-aboards, due to the increase of vessels moving from the Sarasota Bay area near Marina Jack after they began charging for anchorage. “Hopefully we'll get a handle on it and with the cooperation of these agencies. I think that may well be the key."
Bradenton beach police will team up with the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife to inspect and make sure vessels are in compliance with environmental and sanitation laws.
The city is confident that by being proactive and by making sure that these boats are registered, they will make major strides in solving this problem.