The widespread problem of derelict and abandoned boats would be tackled with a new bipartisan bill introduced Jan. 17 by Rep. Drew Hansen in the state House.
The measure is designed to head off the kind of incidents that have generated headlines around Puget Sound in recent years: an abandoned tugboat sinking in Eagle Harbor; a 167-foot ship going under in Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway, dragging another ship off even keel; and the state seizing a 180-foot hulk off Port Ludlow when its owner misfired on plans to tow it to Mexico.
“Derelict vessels threaten jobs in the fishing, recreation and marine industries that depend on safe navigation of our waterways,” Hansen said. “We have lots of those jobs in Kitsap County. I want to prevent problems before they develop.”
Hansen worked over the summer with Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, on the bipartisan proposal to speed up the removal of derelict vessels, increase accountability for owners of high-risk boats and encourage boat owners to dispose of vessels safely. In the 2013 legislative session, Hansen successfully pushed a bill to protect jobs in the marine industries by strengthening the state’s derelict vessel program. That measure, House Bill 1245, was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Hansen’s newest proposal, House Bill 2457, would go further to address the problem, focusing on the bigger, older vessels that are most likely to decay and become derelict.
Hansen’s bill is the product of a bipartisan working group convened by HB 1245 to evaluate further steps the state could take to protect jobs by removing derelict vessels.
HB 2457 has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.