- Associated Press - Saturday, March 3, 2018

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Alaska legislators are considering a bill that would require smaller boats to obtain a title issued by the state Division of Motor Vehicles.

The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Peter Micciche is aiming to reduce the number of vessels becoming derelict and abandoned along the state’s waterways, KTOO Public Media in Juneau reported Friday.

Micciche told the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday that the bill intends to help officials track ownership of the boats, so they can address the issue before boats become abandoned. The titles would be tracked through a state database.

Abandoned and derelict vessels are a major problem across the state, Juneau Harbormaster Dave Borg said.

“I think if you look at it holistically, the fishing fleet is aging,” Borg said. “We’ve got tons of old wood-hulled boats, and people tend to have a tendency of just walking away from them.”

Federally documented boats of at least 5 tons are currently not required to register with the state. The state only requires a bill of sale on vessels, making ownership difficult to track.

Juneau harbor officials have impounded and ordered destroyed more than 30 vessels that were in poor condition since 2014. That number does not include the boats that were seized, salvaged and auctioned.

The bill would also add civil penalties to aid in enforcement.

“This is a step; it’s not the answer,” Republican Sen. Gary Stevens said. “We need to find a way to help folks that own these older vessels before they become a more serious problem than they are right now.”


Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org

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