The California State Senate voted Friday, September 4th to pass legislation introduced by Assemblyman Ted Lieu that would help alleviate a boat owner’s dilemma over abandoning a vessel.

Assembly Bill (AB) 166 would establish a program that authorizes the sale of surrendered vessels prior to their eventual abandonment. Under this program, local agencies would be able to accept title of vessels from willing owners for the purpose of disposal.

Abating vessels before they are abandoned protects the state’s waterways and is the least inexpensive disposal option, Lieu said.

“As the recreational boating season comes to an end, many coastal and river communities will continue to be faced with trying to remove boats that have sunk or were abandoned in marinas or along the shore because their owners can’t afford to keep them seaworthy during these difficult economic times,” Lieu stated. “AB 166 represents a smarter way of using existing funds during tough economic times to address an important environmental problem.”

California has the second largest boating population in the nation with nearly one million registered boats. With such a large population of boating activity, there is an urgent need for local public agencies to remove abandoned vessels that are past their useful lives. These abandoned boats not only create traffic hazards in the waterways, but also leak toxins such as fuel and oil into the water and harm wildlife, Lieu noted.

“We have watched vessels sink while awaiting permission to demolish them,” said Linda McIntyre of Moss Landing Harbor District and president of the California Association of Harbor Masters and Port Captains.

“This bill is a win-win on every level — for the environment, the vessel owner and the agency left with the job of cleaning up after abandoned vessels.”

Lieu’s legislation is co-sponsored by the California State Sheriffs’ Association, California Marine Parks & Harbors Association, California Yacht Brokers Association, Northern California Marine Association and San Francisco Baykeeper.