(Sacramento) - Assemblymember Ted W. Lieu (D-Torrance) announced that Governor Schwarzenegger signed his legislation to create a cost-effective solution to deal with the growing number of abandoned boats in California’s waterways. Assembly Bill 166 will establish a vessel turn-in program that permits boat owners to transfer ownership of their dilapidated vessels before they become an environmental hazard.
"This is a huge win. AB 166 is a much needed law that will go a long way toward solving the environmental problem of boats that pollute our rivers, lakes and coastlines," said Assemblymember Lieu. "I am thrilled that the Governor agrees that California needs to address the environmental degradation created by these boats that have been illegally abandoned by their owners."
Local governments, law enforcement agencies and environmental organizations are reporting an enormous increase in the number of vessels that are abandoned in California waterways. Reports indicate that there were as many boats abandoned in the first quarter of 2009 as there were in all of 2008 – a sign of a weak economic time when people are shedding luxury items such as boats.
"Abandoned boats in our treasured waterways pose a navigational, environmental, and economic hazard for Californians," says Sara Aminzadeh, Public Affairs Associate for San Francisco Baykeeper, one of the bill’s sponsors. "AB 166 will help keep derelict boats, and the oil, sewage, and other hazardous materials that they contain, out of our favorite swimming, kayaking, and boating areas. The bill will help protect people, fish and wildlife from the pollution hotspots created by abandoned boats."
However, there is a shortage of available funds to help clean up these sunken vessels so they continue to degrade local waterways for years. Under the new program established by AB 166, local agencies would be able to accept title of vessels from willing owners for the purpose of disposal. Abating vessels before they are abandoned will protect the state’s waterways and is the least expensive disposal option.
"We look forward to adding this new tool in our battle against abandoned vessels and their effects on navigation and the environment," said Captain Paul Gugg, Captain of the Port of San Francisco, U.S. Coast Guard. "Allowing boaters to voluntarily turn in their boats for disposal will reduce the amount of abandoned vessels in our waterways and further strengthen our unified front on this problem."
"Our clients are looking forward to the implementation of this new program," said Bill Krauss, advocate for the bill’s recreational boating and marina cosponsors. "We have worked hard for two years to see this bill through, and with it finally becoming law, we can now work even harder to clean up our state’s waterways."
AB 166 is cosponsored by San Francisco Baykeeper, California State Sheriffs’ Association, California Association of Harbor Masters & Port Captains, California Marine Parks & Harbors Association, California Yacht Brokers Association, Marina Recreation Association, Northern California Marine Association, and Western Boaters Safety Group.