Session Chairs: Nir Barnea, NOAA Marine Debris Program

Participants involved with abandoned and derelict vessels (ADV) prevention and removal will learn about ADV programs, case studies, best practices, and remaining challenges.

Abandoned and Derelict Vessels (ADVs) are a dangerous and costly global problem. ADVs obstruct navigational channels, damage ecosystems, and diminish the recreational value of the surrounding area. Some ADVs may contain fuel and hazardous materials, which could leak into the surrounding water. ADV removal is often complicated and expensive, with some vessels located in hard-to-reach areas, requiring large, specialized equipment for recovery and transportation. The wreckage may persist for years, breaking apart and creating widespread debris that threatens marine and coastal resources.

Over the years, programs were developed in the US and worldwide to prevent and remove ADVs. Legislation supported agencies’ effort to tackle the ADV problem; Vessels-turn-in programs enticed owners to hand over their dilapidated boats before they sunk; and when removal became necessary, collaborative efforts of agencies, industry, and NGOs made removal as cost effective as possible. Despite all the effort, big challenges remain. Presentations of best management practices, case studies, lessons learned, and successes and challenges will provide this session’s participants with valuable information on how to best tackle the ADV problem in their area.




Coordinated Response to Remove Derelict Vessels in Florida Post Hurricane Irma

presenting: Charles Grisafi (NOAA Marine Debris Program, United States); authors: Charles Grisafi (NOAA Marine Debris Program)

Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on September 10, 2017, with category four wind speeds and massive storm surges, leaving large amounts of debris in the coastal and marine environment from Key West to Jacksonville. In the wake of this destructive storm, over 3,000 vessels were left displaced throughout the state of Florida. Many of these vessels ended up in sensitive habitats, like seagrass beds and coral reefs, or became tangled in mangroves. Some vessels were also discharging oil or contained hazardous materials. The extent of derelict vessels resulting from Hurricane Irma was unprecedented, necessitating a coordinated response among federal, state, and local agencies. Working under the National Response Framework, as part of Emergency Support Function 10, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) was tasked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to mitigate potential pollution threats by removing vessels displaced by the storm. The State of Florida, United States Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other agencies assisted the USCG in targeting and assessing vessel locations and pollution threats from vessels, and ensured that impacts to natural and cultural resources were avoided during all removal operations. During the conference, we will discuss the details of this coordinated response, successes, and lessons learned for future response efforts.


Improving California’s Prevention and Response Strategies for Abandoned and Derelict Vessels – a study of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

presenting: Andrea Daly (United States); authors: Andrea Daly

Abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) create environmental, navigational, and public health hazards. Hundreds, if not thousands, of these vessels exist in California and as vessels are removed from the state waterways they pollute, more vessels appear. These vessels pose a significant challenge in California and the state struggles to effectively address this issue. This summer I worked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) to study this problem. While our research focused on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which is the epicenter of the problem in California, ADVs are a problem state and countrywide. The goal of our research was to increase our understanding of the problem so we could develop strategies to improve the state’s response to ADVs.

OSPR conducted an aerial survey of the Delta, collecting data on vessel count, location, and status. After discussions with experts, a series of assumptions were applied to this data set. Using this data set along with data gathered during a subsequent water survey, I developed a cost estimate for the removal of all vessels from the Delta. I also interviewed ADV program coordinators in eight coastal states across the country, seeking to identify common challenges and solutions that might be applicable in California. Additionally, I gathered qualitative data about the state’s current ADV program through discussions with program participants. Lastly, working with OSPR staff, I designed a web form for state agencies to use to track ADVs and create a comprehensive ADV inventory, which California presently lacks.

During the conference I would discuss survey findings, the conclusions from my discussions with other states, and my recommendations for improvement of California’s ADV response. No paper is being written.


Collaborative approaches to removing Abandoned Derelict Vessels: Case studies on US EPA cleanup work with partnering agencies

presenting: Harry Allen (USEPA, United States); authors: Harry Allen (USEPA, United States), Bill Robberson (USEPA)

Abandoned Derelict Vessels (ADVs) plague US waterways and are very often latent sources of environmental pollution. While ADVs may be disregarded as part of the maritime landscape, a closer look yields discoveries of oil and hazardous wastes almost without exception. These wastes leach into the environment posing ecotoxicity and can impact human health and welfare. In general, US EPA has authority to respond to and direct the removal of such wastes from the environment, however, ADVs are a special case.

Due to the complexity of ADV removal cases, it has been acknowledged that “no one entity can go it alone.” Indeed, there have been several highly successful removal projects in EPA Region 9 each requiring significant multi-agency participation and multiple sources of funding. These projects also required extensive consultation on issues ranging from historic preservation to protection of fish habitat. This platform session will review several case studies illustrating agency authorities and funding sources. We will review each of these authorities in turn and discuss gaps. Finally, we will discuss National and state-wide initiatives to abate ADVs and address ADVs before they sink!