FOX 35 Investigates: Who will clean up derelict boats in Daytona Beach?

FOX 35 News has been reaching out to state, county and city officials to find out what they’re doing to pull hazardous boats out of the water after a concerned resident contacted our station. 

"Everybody comes to our house and the first thing they ask is – what’s up with the sunken boat," said Ashby Underhill, who lives in Daytona Beach. 

We saw several sideways, sinking, abandoned vessels in the Halifax River Tuesday. 

Underhill says he’s been trying to figure out how to get these derelict boats cleaned up.  

"We called FWC… nothing happened. Today, it finally went under and caused a huge fuel slick that we could smell at our residence," he said, referencing a sinking sailboat. 

Several local agencies say they’re actively working on this coastal problem. 

Daytona Beach Police say their Marine Unit has identified 12 derelict boats in the Halifax River for removal. Nine of them will be taken out in the next couple of weeks. 

On March 1, Volusia County commissioners approved a plan to remove 10 boats after getting funding from FWC. 

In New Smyrna Beach, police recently posted several photos of a sunken sailboat as it was pulled out of the water. 

"I think they need to take action faster - they have statutes they can enforce against the owners of these boats," Underhill explained. 

He says quicker action could prevent environmental harm. 

Daytona Beach Police say: "We do our best to get these boats removed as fast as we can, but it is a time-consuming and expensive process that has many requirements…" 

FWC has a program where local governments can apply to get grants to get rid of the boats. 

A City of Daytona Beach spokeswoman says they’ve removed about 30 boats since 2020. She says they have to hire contractors that can use special equipment to remove them without spilling fuel in the water. 

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