Call for shipwreck’ boat owners to be charged
A flotilla of derelict and beached boats on the shoreline has sparked a call for mandatory haulage insurance for owners.
Concerned residents said that owners should be forced to move their damaged and abandoned boats before they become an environmental and navigational hazard.
Alistair Border, 57, said: “Government should have the power to say ‘these boats need to be taken off the rocks and either trashed or put back on their moorings at the owner’s expense’.”
Mr Border, from Warwick, was speaking after he spotted several derelict boats around Coney Island in St George’s and Ely’s Harbour in Southampton.
He said that the boats started to wash ashore after Hurricane Humberto hit the island last September.
But Mr Border added that derelict vessels had been a problem for years.
He explained: “There’s one in particular I’ve seen for maybe the last four years or so.”
Mr Border added: “It’s a bit bizarre to me because these boats are not cheap, so surely people who can afford those kinds of boats can also afford to get them refloated and repaired.
“And they’re not improving with age — the longer you leave them, the more they’re going to get bashed around.”
Jay Riihiluoma, who lives near Riddell’s Bay in Southampton, confirmed that derelict boats had also been a nuisance in the area for years.
He added that, despite a clean-up effort in 2018, numbers had “steadily increased”.
Mr Riihiluoma said: “They build up and nothing gets done, so they just become more and more of an eyesore.”
He added: “It’s trash — they’re just huge pieces of litter all over the island and it’s unfortunate because our shoreline is so beautiful and it’s being affected by these boats.”
Mr Riihiluoma said that he suspected some of wrecked boats had obstructed vessels using the harbour.
He is also worried about the potential threat pollution from the boats could pose to the environment.
Anne Hyde, the executive director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, said the number of abandoned boats went up after hurricane seasons when damaged boats were discarded by their owners.
She confirmed that the wrecks could leak hazardous chemicals or break down into “unsightly hazards that are dangerous for humans and marine life”.
Ms Hyde added that rules existed to clean up abandoned boats, but the law could be strengthened.
She said: “A boat is a motorised vehicle and for all of our other motorised vehicles you must have insurance and you must carry insurance in order to relicense every year.
“There should be some way to improve the legislation around this so that people who want to take on the responsibility of being a boat owner can do so without this residual problem.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Transport said that there were 57 abandoned boats around Bermuda in January 2018, but that the number had probably increased since then.
He admitted that the Government could not remove derelict boats without the owner’s consent unless the vessel blocked a major waterway.
The spokesman added: “Given the legal ramifications and disposal cost of a vessel that is not covered by legislation, Marine and Ports and the Department of Environment are working to find solutions that address this issue.
“This may involve amending the legislation to ensure the full cost of salvaging sunken or discarded vessels is borne by the boat owners and not by government.”
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