Police cracking down on derelict boats in Bradenton Beach

Derelict and abandoned boats

BRADENTON BEACH, Fla. (WWSB) - Derelict and abandoned boats continues to be a problem in the Bradenton Beach anchorage and other parts of the Suncoast.

“A lot of them are just like mind your own business and there are a few people that say we’re not doing anything wrong,” said Pete Wilcox.

Wilcox has lived on his boat in Bradenton Beach for nearly four years. He says it’s very frustrating and concerning to have these derelict and abandoned boats in the water.

“The ones that aren’t being taken care of they’re going to break loose and they’re going to either do damage to our boats or it’s going to hit the pier or one of the docks,” said Wilcox.

Bradenton Beach Police Officer Eric Hill keeps a close eye on these problem boats, which he says there are at least six in the city’s intracoastal area and there could be many more that are abandoned. Abandoned boats are ones where an owner can’t be found. Derelict boats are vessels that are in disrepair, not able to move on it’s own power, causing a danger to the environment or other boats.

“All we’re asking for is compliance, as long as the boats are registered, can move under their own power, have the proper lighting, that’s basically it,” said Hill.

Hill has issued many citations to the owners of these boats that are considered derelict. Here are some pictures he took of boats that aren’t in compliance. Fines are around $90.

“If I’m to the aspect where I’m actually ticketing people, that means I’ve done everything else that I can including warning before I issue that citation,” said Hill.

Beverly Fencil and her husband come to Bradenton Beach often via their boat. She would like to see these boats removed.

“If they are abandoned I do have a problem with it because they are not being kept up, do emit the things to the water that shouldn’t be and it makes it a dangerous situation for the wildlife,” said Fencil.

Police say it’s very costly to have these vessels removed so there’s a strong push to have derelict boat owners in compliance or track down the owners of abandoned boats. New rules by the Florida Wildlife Commission is speeding up the process. Now instead of a 45-day waiting period before police can act on a derelict boat, it’s going to be 21 days.

We did reach out to some of the derelict boat owners, but have yet to hear back from them.

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