What to do with derelict boats?

Mooring field idea refloated in Martin County

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - A plan on the Treasure Coast to try and deal with derelict boats seemed to be sunk, but tonight, may be floating again.

From Jensen Beach Causeway Park, the views are spectacular, for the most part.

Sharon Adams has seen abandoned and derelict boats take up permanent residence on the Intracoastal for years.

"I'm finding an environmental mess.  I just need somebody to listen to me," said Adams.

It appeared Adams was going to get some action as Martin County Commissioners had slowly been moving toward the creation of a mooring field on the southside of the Causeway. 

A mooring field is a place where instead of anchoring, another permanent structure like a ball would be placed for boats to tie down to.

A mooring field been discussed for years and ordinances had been crafted, but never voted on.

But last month, the mooring field project was removed from the county's Capital Improvement Plan.
Some commissioners balked at the 1.5 million dollar pricetag.

"If the goal is to get rid of derelict vessels, we have a dedicated funding source for that.  Vessel registration fees, 25 percent of what's collected from that go toward derelict vessel elimination," said Commission Chairwoman Sarah Heard.

Supporters like Adams though say a Harbor Master in a mooring field would be able to prevent illegal activities like the dumping of human waste or other pollution into the river.

"We're losing our wildlife.  I don't see my osprey.  I don't see my bait fish jumping as much," added Adams.

Local environmentalists aren't all in favor of a mooring field.  One said the added boat traffic would harm the sea grasses and there's the issue of will the owners of the derelict vessels actually *pay* to moor.

"Most of it is actually transients that are connected to that problem," said Benjamin D'Avanzo.

County Commissioners decided to take the mooring field up as a separate agenda item and discuss it again in the future, likely on February 5th..

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