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The Florida Statutes

The 2021 Florida Statutes

Title XXVIII
NATURAL RESOURCES; CONSERVATION, RECLAMATION, AND USE
Chapter 376
POLLUTANT DISCHARGE PREVENTION AND REMOVAL
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F.S. 376.15
376.15 Derelict vessels; relocation or removal from waters of this state.
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Commission” means the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
(b) “Gross negligence” means conduct so reckless or wanting in care that it constitutes a conscious disregard or indifference to the safety of the property exposed to such conduct.
(c) “Willful misconduct” means conduct evidencing carelessness or negligence of such a degree or recurrence as to manifest culpability, wrongful intent, or evil design or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of the interests of the vessel owner.
(2)(a) It is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to leave any derelict vessel as defined in s. 823.11 upon the waters of this state. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “leave” means to allow a vessel to remain occupied or unoccupied on the waters of this state for more than 24 hours.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a person who owns or operates a vessel that becomes derelict upon the waters of this state solely as a result of a boating accident that is reported to law enforcement in accordance with s. 327.301 or otherwise reported to law enforcement; a hurricane; or another sudden event outside of his or her control may not be charged with a violation if:
1. The individual documents for law enforcement the specific event that led to the vessel being derelict upon the waters of this state; and
2. The vessel has been removed from the waters of this state or has been repaired or addressed such that it is no longer derelict upon the waters of this state:
a. For a vessel that has become derelict as a result of a boating accident or other sudden event outside of his or her control, within 7 days after such accident or event; or
b. Within 45 days after the hurricane has passed over this state.
(c) This subsection does not apply to a vessel that was derelict upon the waters of this state before the stated accident or event.
(3)(a) The commission, an officer of the commission, or a law enforcement agency or officer specified in s. 327.70 may relocate, remove, store, destroy, or dispose of or cause to be relocated, removed, stored, destroyed, or disposed of a derelict vessel as defined in s. 823.11 from waters of this state as defined in s. 327.02. All costs, including costs owed to a third party, incurred by the commission or other law enforcement agency in the relocation, removal, storage, destruction, or disposal of any abandoned or derelict vessel are recoverable against the owner of the vessel or the party determined to be legally responsible for the vessel being upon the waters of this state in a derelict condition. The Department of Legal Affairs shall represent the commission in actions to recover such costs.
(b) The commission, an officer of the commission, or a law enforcement agency or officer specified in s. 327.70 acting pursuant to this section to relocate, remove, store, destroy, or dispose of or cause to be relocated, removed, stored, destroyed, or disposed of a derelict vessel from waters of this state as defined in s. 327.02 shall be held harmless for all damages to the derelict vessel resulting from such action unless the damage results from gross negligence or willful misconduct as these terms are defined in s. 823.11.
(c) A contractor performing relocation or removal activities at the direction of the commission, an officer of the commission, a law enforcement agency or officer, or a governmental subdivision, when the governmental subdivision has received authorization for the relocation or removal from a law enforcement officer or agency pursuant to this section, must be licensed in accordance with applicable United States Coast Guard regulations where required; obtain and carry in full force and effect a policy from a licensed insurance carrier in this state to insure against any accident, loss, injury, property damage, or other casualty caused by or resulting from the contractor’s actions; and be properly equipped to perform the services to be provided.
(d) The commission may establish a program to provide grants to local governments for the removal, storage, destruction, and disposal of derelict vessels from the waters of this state as defined in s. 327.02. The program shall be funded from the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund or the Florida Coastal Protection Trust Fund. Notwithstanding s. 216.181(11), funds available for grants may only be authorized by appropriations acts of the Legislature. In a given fiscal year, if all funds appropriated pursuant to this paragraph are not requested by and granted to local governments for the removal, storage, destruction, and disposal of derelict vessels by the end of the third quarter, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission may use the remainder of the funds to remove, store, destroy, and dispose of, or to pay private contractors to remove, store, destroy, and dispose of, derelict vessels.
(e) The commission shall adopt by rule procedures for submitting a grant application and criteria for allocating available funds. Such criteria shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
1. The number of derelict vessels within the jurisdiction of the applicant.
2. The threat posed by such vessels to public health or safety, the environment, navigation, or the aesthetic condition of the general vicinity.
3. The degree of commitment of the local government to maintain waters free of abandoned and derelict vessels and to seek legal action against those who abandon vessels in the waters of this state as defined in s. 327.02.
(f) This section constitutes the authority for such removal but is not intended to be in contravention of any applicable federal act.
History.s. 15, ch. 70-244; s. 1, ch. 70-439; s. 6, ch. 80-382; s. 7, ch. 85-252; s. 64, ch. 95-143; s. 5, ch. 95-150; s. 257, ch. 99-245; s. 23, ch. 2001-56; s. 7, ch. 2006-309; s. 2, ch. 2014-143; s. 6, ch. 2019-54; s. 26, ch. 2021-184.