Abandoned boats are a problem in NJ: Lawmaker says state should get involved
A New Jersey lawmaker has plans to introduce legislation to fund the removal of abandoned boats from the state's shorelines and waterways.
People with damaged boats claim they can't afford to fix them so they are abandoning them in local marinas, according to a recent report on NJ.com.
These marinas are then stuck with housing the boat that hasn't been paid for, abandoned in their waters, and now they have to take care of it.
"There is a saying in the boating world: The two best days you'll ever have with a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it," state Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland, said.
Unfortunately, not everybody is a very responsible boat owner and New Jersey is seeing the fruits of that, he said.
Testa's bill would set up a bill to help municipalities remove the boats because they just don't have the money.
"We have a $50 billion a year budget in the state of New Jersey. I can't imagine we can't start a fund with something like $25 million in it to at least address some of the more low-hanging fruit issues such as immediate removals," Testa said.
He pointed out that as a Republican, he supports protecting the environment and would expect full support from environmentalists on this bill.
These abandoned boats have oil, gasoline, and antifreeze in them. If left unchecked for years, these substances will pollute New Jersey's waterways.
He also said these abandoned boats pose as eyesores for people trying to enjoy the shore communities and they pose serious navigation risks for boaters.
Another reason Testa wanted to set up the state fund is that it is difficult to remove one of these abandoned boats. These local municipalities can't necessarily handle the process themselves and they need help from the state.
Testa said hopefully New Jersey will have alignment from the federal government, state government, county government, and local municipal government on this issue.
He is also concerned that recreational and commercial fishing is a large part of his legislative district, as well as the districts that have shore communities in them. He's heard complaints from both the commercial industry as well as the recreational fishermen that this is a problem that needs to be addressed and has gone on for way too long.
"Local waterside governments and the taxpayers that are already paying pretty hefty taxes in this state, simply don't have the capacity to fund the lengthy and expensive process of identifying who the owner of the boat is, providing proper notice to that person, and then hauling away and disposing of all these derelict boats that end up washing up in their communities," Testa said.
He has not introduced the legislation let because he is looking into how other states have handled this issue. But Testa said he believes this is a common-sense bill and will get bi-partisan support.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at email@example.com
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