Friday, October 3, 2008

Derelict Boat Issue Hits the Big Time in Time Magazine, which printed an article titled America's Underwater Junkyard this week. Here is a snippet from that article:

Legislation is slowly beginning to change. Since 2003, Washington State's vessel removal program has led a crackdown on derelict boats, using ramped-up boat-registration fees as funding for the program, which has so far cleared 188 boats. "It gave us financial capability plus the legal hammer if we needed to use it," says Doug Sutherland, the state's commissioner of public lands. Other state officials have expressed interest in Washington's model. In September, the California legislature passed a bill to increase fines to owners of derelict vessels. And last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an act that
gives NOAA funds and authorization to remove abandoned vessels damaging coral reefs.
I've been harping about this issue since the second blog I ever put up way back in February of 2007: Derelict Boats create income opportunity.

So, two thoughts from me today:
A) I hope that C-PORT keeps abreast of this issue, as I predict that federal money earmarked for this kind of work will probably flow through the USCG, and we should ask that the funds be spent through competitive bidding to private industry, rather than just federal grants passed down to local and state authorities. If a few million dollars for derelict vessel removal ends up in the hands of places like Orange County, CA, you can bet our industry will never see a nickle of it.

B) I predict that in the next 10 years, derelict vessel retrieval and disposal will become a multi-million dollar industry, fueled almost entirely with public funds. A large portion of abandoned vessels are under 60' in length, and our industry has the resources to retrieve a bunch of those.

However, getting this kind of work will require determination and active particpation on your part, rather than just waiting around for the phones and radios to announce a job opportunity.

All indications are that next year will be a slow one for recreational boating, and that will mean less towing. If you have boats and pumps and divers and lift bags and manpower, you should begin planning to find alternative ways to keep those resources busy.

Here is one idea that I might try if I knew where there were derelicts in my AOR. I would go out and find these boats, take pictures, record the LAT/LON and the physical particulars like length, construction and condition. I would put all that into a database. Then, I would create a document that summarizes all this information and get that document into the hands of every single agency I could find.

Two things might happen. Someone might actually want the details, and I would offer to sell my data for a fee. Even better, decision makers at the agencies will probably view my company as one of the experts in this field, and that increases my chances of getting some of the work.