The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is preparing for Florida’s hurricane season and encourages Florida boaters to do the same. Hurricane season began June 1, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a stronger than usual hurricane season.
“In Florida, we are very concerned about the potential impacts on our waterways following a natural disaster, both environmental and related to navigation,” said Phil Horning, FWC Derelict Vessel Program Administrator. “Now is the time for vessel owners to get prepared for the worst.”
NOAA forecasters predict 12 to 18 named storms in the Atlantic basin, including three to six major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or higher). Since boat owners are responsible for their vessels before and after a storm, they should secure their boats properly if a storm is heading their way.
“Planning ahead and preparing for storms is the key to minimizing damage, loss and legal liability,” said Capt. Richard Moore, of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section.
Repairing vessel damage and securing a vessel properly can help prevent further problems during a storm.
“Improperly secured vessels can be dangerous in severe weather,” Horning said.
The FWC encourages boat owners to discuss their options with local marinas and city- and county-operated mooring fields. Marine equipment vendors can also provide suggestions on proper equipment that can withstand wind and waves during a storm.
The FWC maintains a statewide derelict vessel database that is used by FWC officers and other law enforcement partners to document locations and information about derelict vessels throughout the state.
“Part of our mission is to document the state’s pre-hurricane derelict vessel condition,” Horning said. “That way, state, county and local law enforcement agencies can be reimbursed by federal funding for post-hurricane derelict vessel damage and cleanup costs.”
The FWC is also working to implement a post-disaster assessment team that would go into areas hit by a storm to quickly document storm-related vessel damage.
More hurricane safety tips are available at MyFWC.com/Boating.
Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585