Officials are asking the same question.
“We know about them and we’ve made some attempts to locate the people responsible for them are we’ve actually started exploring what it will take to get them out of there,” said Hope Sutton, a stewardship coordinator in the Wilmington office of the Coastal Reserve.
Both boats are 20 to 30 feet long and appear to have been anchored in the waters west of the island, and then abandoned.
“It’s a complicated situation,” Sutton said. “Both of them were purchased by people and then never registered.” Since they were not registered with the Wildlife Resources Commission, there is no easy way to find the owners.
There is a Wildlife Resources Commission process to prove that a boat’s owner cannot be found, but Sutton said then the Coastal Reserve would have to claim the boats.
Though the boats have been there for months, Sutton said the issue is still murky.
“When does it become the state’s problem? It’s tricky,” she said. “In the state of North Carolina, there’s not a program for dealing with derelict vessels.”
There’s another reason she has waited to start that process.
“I’ve hesitated to go through the process of the state claiming them legally, because then we have crossed into now we are responsible for getting them out of the waterway,” she said.
The problem is, there’s no money in the tightened state budget to pay to remove the boats.
“We’re trying to be creative about it,” Sutton said. She may look for volunteers to help remove the boat, or ask if someone would be willing to help pay to remove them.
Sutton, who manages five reserves along the coast, said abandoned boats are not unusual.
“At one point last year, there were five abandoned boats on Masonboro,” she said. There’s also a sailboat on the south end of the island.
She says a tough economy makes the problem worse.
“People buy boats thinking they’re going to fix them up and then they run out of money,” she said.
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Date posted: July 29, 2011
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