A Vancleave company began hauling away the debris from one of two shrimp boats on Wednesday. A giant crane has been lifting pieces of the shrimp boat Captain Terrell out of the water for several days. It and another boat nearby have been partially submerged since last year. The DMR is overseeing the project, after giving the owners 30 days to remove their boats.
"If the owner does not comply, then we will take them to court on this, and they can be fined up to $500 a day for leaving that derelict vessel because besides the navigational hazard," DMR spokesperson Lauren Thompson said.
The cleanup is costing the DMR $18,000. The agency will recoup the money from the owners by fining them, but in cases where the owners of the vessels are unknown, the DMR does the cleanup and has to eat the cost.
"But we feel that it's important enough to the safety of the boaters to get these vessels out of here because they do pose such a hazard," Thompson says. The vessels are not only a danger to recreational and commercial boaters, but also to the marine officers who patrol the water.
"You could hit a submerged vessel, derelict boat like this and it wouldn't be hard to incur a loss of two $10,000 outboard engines, which the taxpayers would have to foot the bill for. So there's other problems besides just the safety to the public," State Marine Patrol Officer Dennis Bankston says.
The DMR pays for the vessel removal with money from the Tidelands Trust Fund. So far, the agency has recovered more than 40 boats. The debris from the Gulfport boat removal will be taken to EPA approved landfills in either Woolmarket or Vancleave.