Broken Boats Begone! City Launches Boat Disposal Office

 Broken Boats Begone! City Launches Boat Disposal Office

On Monday, April 15, NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Deputy Commissioner Keith Kerman, New York City Councilmember Joann Ariola, Councilmember Selvena Brooks-Powers, Councilmember Inna Vernikov, CUNY Kingsborough Community College Interim President Suri Duitch, and community members gathered at Kingsborough to celebrate the creation of the new Office of Marine Debris Disposal and Vessel Surrendering.

The office, made possible due to legislation from Councilmember Ariola’s office and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Brooks-Powers and Vernikov, is funded through 2025 thanks to $1 million from Mayor Eric Adams.

The first of its kind in New York state, the office will keep New York City’s waterfront clear of marine hazards like derelict boats, creating a safer environment for boaters, waterfront enjoyers, and marine life. The office is also launching a vessel turn-in program through which New Yorkers can directly surrender their unwanted boats, proactively addressing vessels before they become derelict.

NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said, “With this new office and innovative vessel turn-in program, we are protecting our shoreline from floating risks and sunken hazards, benefiting the people, flora, and fauna that rely on a healthy and clean waterfront.”

“In the past, the process to remove marine debris from our waterways was often overly complicated and mired in red tape,” Councilmember Joann Ariola said. “With the creation of the Office of Marine Debris Disposal and Vessel Surrendering, we are streamlining this process while also giving boat owners an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to abandonment. This will go a long way towards cleaning our shorelines and will improve New York City’s waterways for generations to come.”

There are well over 800 derelict boats located along the 520 miles that make up New York City’s shoreline. When these vessels become abandoned, they can pose serious risks to navigation, property damage, and public safety. Abandoned derelict vessels can also be extremely harmful to our marine habitats and ecosystems as they leak oils and fuels, and their fiberglass hulls leach large amounts of microplastics into our shared waters.

In addition to expanding Parks’ removal work on the waterways, the new office will launch a vessel turn-in program, similarly the first of its kind in the state. This program will assist members of the public who have no other means of responsibly disposing of their vessels. Proactively removing vessels before they end up as floating risks or sunken hazards is one of the most effective measures for protecting the public and the natural environment.

“The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers commend Councilwoman Joann Ariola for this groundbreaking legislation,” Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers Vice President Dan Mundy Jr. said. “For the last 20 years we have been struggling with the issue of marine debris, abandoned boats and abandoned docks that litter the shoreline and damage the environment of the bay. Previously,  there was no way to have these items removed. No agency was tasked with this, and it became a blight on the shores of areas like Jamaica Bay. This will be a game changer for all of the waterfront areas around New York City.”

If you’d like to report an abandoned vessel or utilize the vessel turn-in program, contact your local council person. Those in District 32 can contact Ariola’s office at 718-318-6411. Those in District 31 can contact Brooks-Powers’ office at 718-471-7014.

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