FWC starts removing derelict vessels

The FWC started removing 12 derelict vessels from the Levy County waterways on Tuesday.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced it will be removing 12 derelict vessels from the waterways of Levy County.

According to an FWC release, work started on Tuesday with the removal of the “Miss Katherine,” a 38-foot shrimp boat.

“The ‘Miss Katherine’ has been derelict for several years and has been obstructing the Withlacoochee River,” said Lt. Robert Johnston, FWC area lieutenant in Levy County, in the release.

Five vessels will be removed from the Withlacoochee River, with one of those being removed on a Citrus County removal contract. Another vessel—a concrete hull shrimp boat that has been there for more than 20 years—will be taken out of the Waccasassa River. Another six derelict vessels will be removed from the waterways surrounding Cedar Key.

“I’ve been assigned to Levy County for the past 17 years and some of these vessels were here before I arrived,” said Johnston in the release. “Seeing these derelict vessels finally removed means so much to me and my crew. I’m glad to see these go.”

The contractor removing the vessels is Sammy Royal with Sea Tow in Horseshoe Beach. The Levy County Board of County Commissioners discussed the derelict vessel removal at a meeting in February. 

The Levy County DV Removal Project is being funded by an FWC Direct Removal Project, using funding that may only be used by FWC to contract removal projects.

“We also have another program where local governments can apply for grants to remove derelict vessels,” said Phil Horning, derelict vessel program administrator, in the release. “This has been exhausted for FY 21/22; however, we are now accepting local government applications for the FY 22/23 budget. This funding will be available beginning July 1 for local DV removal grants. 

“Both FWC and local governments will continue to remove derelict vessels throughout the state at the same time. With both processes working simultaneously, more derelict vessels removals can occur throughout the state.”

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