Council Passes Bill to Establish the 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 16, 2023, Local Law 46 was adopted in NYC. The law was previously passed on March 16, 2023 by the City Council. The new law originally introduced by Council Member Joann Ariola, as Intro. 210 of 2022, will establish an Office of Marine Debris Disposal and Vessel Surrendering to remove marine debris, develop disposal procedures for marine debris and abandoned boats, and recommend plans and enforcement to help prevent the accumulation of marine debris in the City’s waterways.

Local Law 46 will amend the current New York City Charter to establish this new office for the purposes of keeping the City’s waterways clean and healthy. The Office of Marine Debris Disposal and Vessel Surrendering, which will be headed by a Director of Marine Debris Disposal, will work with City agencies and the offices of the Mayor to create recommendations and plans to keep the City’s waterways and shores clean of marine debris. These responsibilities include removing physical debris from the City’s waterways; creating solutions for reusing, recycling, or disposing of marine debris; developing recommendations for enforcement against those who fail to properly dispose of marine debris; developing a program for individuals to surrender their boats and maritime vessels to the City for disposal; and developing a tracking program to monitor boats and prevent boat abandonment along the City’s waterways and shores.

In the March 16, 2023 City Council Committee hearing, Council Member Joann Ariola stated this new law “will make it easier to clear City shores of vessels often abandoned in the outer boroughs.” Council Member Ariola specifically pointed towards the negative effects marine debris has on environmental injustice communities like Jamaica Bay, Coney Island, the Kill Van Kull, and the Arthur Kill.

Local Law 46 will help protect both the safety and beauty of the City’s waterways, hoping to alleviate the environmental risks such marine debris poses to community members – especially those most affected in the outer boroughs. The new law went into effect immediately but there is no timeline as to when this new office will be operational.

By: Alec Feldman (Alec is a New York Law School student, Class of 2023.)



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