City Celebrates Launch of Office of Marine Debris Disposal and Vessel Surrendering

Abandoned boat in Pelham Bay gets removed in spring 2021. Image Credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

On April 15, 2024, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) Commissioner Sue Donoghue, NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Deputy Commissioner Keith Kerman, New York City Councilmember Joann Ariola, Councilmember Selvena Brooks-Powers, Councilmember Inna Vernikov, CUNY Kingsborough Community College Interim President Suri Duitch, and community members celebrated the creation of the Office of Marine Debris Disposal and Vessel Surrendering. The goal of this office will be to keep New York City’s waterfront clear of marine hazards, creating safe environments for boaters, those enjoying the water, and marine life.

The vessel surrendering unit of this office will give New Yorkers a place to surrender all unwanted boats which proactively will tackle the issue of abandoned boats on the waterfront. Along New York City’s 250-mile shoreline, there are 800 abandoned privately owned boats. These boats pose a safety risk to navigation, property damage, and public safety in addition to their harmful effects on marine habitats and ecosystems. Through the vessel surrendering unit, the vessel turn-in program will act as the first of its kind in the state and help members of the public properly dispose of their unwanted vessels.

NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said, “Throughout our city’s history, the New York City waterfront has been critical to our prosperity, environmental health, and natural beauty – and today, we’re taking a new step forward in caring for this vital natural resource. With this new office and innovative vessel turn-in program, we are protecting our shoreline from floating risks and sunken hazards, benefiting the people, flora, and fauna that rely on a healthy and clean waterfront. Our work caring for our city’s natural spaces doesn’t stop at the water’s edge, and this new program underscores our commitment to maintaining safe, healthy spaces that New Yorkers can take pride in and enjoy.”

DCAS Deputy Commissioner and NYC Chief Fleet Officer Keith Kerman said, “For over a decade, DCAS has been proud to partner with NYC Parks on the removal of abandoned, dangerous, and polluting boats and debris from NYC’s waterways. We congratulate NYC Parks as the new Office of Marine Debris Disposal and Vessel Surrendering sets sail, and we will continue to offer support navigating the contracting and technical resources to perform these water-based operations moving forward. We look forward to setting our course and working alongside the waterfront and marine operations team at NYC Parks to chart a path towards cleaner seas.”

New York City Councilmember Joann Ariola said, “In the past, the process to remove marine debris from our waterways was often overly complicated and mired in red tape. With the creation of the Office of Marine Debris Disposal and Vessel Surrendering, we are streamlining this process while also giving boat owners an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to abandonment. This will go a long way towards cleaning our shorelines and will improve New York City’s waterways for generations to come.”

By: Meg Beauregard (Meg is the CityLaw intern, and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024).


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