By ESTEVAN MEDRANO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Abandoned boats may not be a common problem in the Laguna Madre region, but it is a frustrating one. Boats are typically abandoned once an owner decides not to repair or properly dispose of an inoperable vessel. The problem escalates when those boats are abandoned on private property, leaving the property owner with little idea of who they belong to or how to get rid of them.
Such has been the case on more than one occasion for longtime resident and marina property owner Bob Lloyd. “Several times over the last seven or eight years people pulled their boats in there and just abandoned the things,” Lloyd said. “Recently a sailboat was put in there and tied on the end of my dock. Someone just left it there and I wanted to know who did it,” he said.
Lloyd inquired about who the boat belonged to, but to no avail. Even after he contacted the City, the Coast Guard and the local police, several months went by with the unwanted boat still occupying one of the rental spaces he had reserved for customers seeking to dock their vessels.
“I wouldn’t say abandoned vessels are commonplace, but we do have these things that are reported to us as vessels start to become derelict,” said Cody Jones, boating law administrator and assistant commander game warden with Texas Parks and Wildlife. “When it takes a lot of money to keep them running, some folks tend to try and get rid of them before it becomes a cost lost to them,” he said.
“We do find that people will abandoned them in the most inopportune places,” he said. Depending on where, exactly, such an inopportune place is can affect how the vessel is treated, according to Cody. “As far as that goes, the General Land Office has a program that removes derelict vessels in waters of the State. When we receive reports we notify them of it and they do the removal process and clean-up,” he said. The General Land Office, part of Texas Parks and Wildlife, is responsible for the removal process of derelict vessels on public property.
If on private property, the property owner may file for a property title if the boat is on their property. Texas Parks and Wildlife is currently working with the General Land Office on new legislation under House Bill 1466 that would strengthen the position that department holds on these types of matters and provides penalties for disregarding vessels.
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