Owner of derelict boat receives jail sentence

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After nearly nine months of investigation and legal proceedings, the owner of a vessel deemed derelict by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) received a 39-day jail sentence and was charged $236 in court costs.

On May 6, 2010, FWC Officer Jeff Luce responded to a report of a wrecked and grounded vessel in the Banana River, east of Snug Harbor, in Brevard County.

Luce said he recognized the vessel from an encounter in 2008, in which the owner, Jeremy Ross (DOB 02/02/80) of Virginia, was charged with having an abandoned/derelict vessel.

Those charges were dropped, but the most recent charges were prosecuted. After pleading not guilty, the owner changed his plea to guilty and received the sentence and fines.

“Abandoned and derelict vessels can pose safety and navigational hazards as well as become eyesores in Florida’s beautiful waterways,” said Capt. Richard Moore of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section.

Owners are responsible for removing derelict vessels at their own expense, or they risk criminal charges, potential loss of vehicle and vessel registration privileges, and being fined for both court costs and the cost of removing the vessel.

“The FWC launched an at-risk vessel program to educate people who leave vessels on Florida’s waterways in a condition that may lead them to become derelict,” Moore said.

The FWC hopes this program will reduce the derelict vessel problem in the state by engaging boat owners in conversations about proper care and maintenance, requirements for vessel lighting and laws about title transfer. 

Someone may transfer a boat to someone else who may allow it to deteriorate; without a proper title transfer, the original owner is still responsible.

The FWC is committed to networking with other law enforcement agencies and the public to prevent at-risk vessels from becoming derelict.

 A statewide at-risk and derelict vessel map will be available online in the near future. More information about the at-risk vessel program is available at MyFWC.com/Boating.