House votes unanimously on ghost ship bill

A derelict fishing vessel on the North Shore of Egegik in Bristol Bay. Credit Mike Mason

A derelict fishing vessel on the North Shore of Egegik in Bristol Bay.
Credit Mike Mason

A bill that would give cities and boroughs in Alaska the ability to deal with derelict and abandoned vessels is on the move in Juneau. On Friday House Bill 131 received a unanimous vote in the Alaska House.

The prime sponsor of the Bill is Representative Paul Seaton from Homer.

He says the bill addresses an important issue.

“Dealing with derelict and abandoned vessels is a costly endeavor and a growing problem. Unfortunately, that onus is falling on our municipalities, since the state has made a policy of giving our ports and harbors back to them. They simply don’t have the financial resources or sufficient legal authority in some cases,” Seaton, R-Homer, said. “HB 131 gives municipalities better legal traction to address this problem.”

Back in October the Alaska Association of Harbor Masters and Port Administrators passed a resolution requesting stronger municipal powers in regards to abandoned and derelict vessels. That resolution was supported by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. House Bill 131 basically allows a state agency or municipality to remove a derelict vessel from State waters if the vessel obstructs navigation or constitutes a danger to the environment. The bill also stipulates that a vessel that has been denied entrance to a harbor by a state agency or municipality may not be stored on the waters of the State for more than 14 consecutive days unless all hazardous materials and petroleum products have been removed. House Bill 131 also gives a state agency or municipality the authority to dispose of vessels that have been left unattended for 30-days if the vessel is on public property or on private property without the authorization of the owner of the property.

House Bill 131 now moves to the Alaska Senate, which has until Sunday, April 14th to move the bill.    If not the bill will be waiting on the Senate next year when the 2nd session of the 28th Alaska Legislature gets underway.


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Ghost Boat Legislation Clears the House

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