NOAA Awards BoatUS Funds for Abandoned Vessel Programs


Abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) are a growing problem in the boating community and pose dangerous environmental threats. When boats are irresponsibly discarded and sink below the surface, plastics, glass and pollutants are also left behind, harming marine life and aquatic ecosystems. Debris in the water can cause serious risks to boats, damage other vessels, marinas and properties, and obstruct safe cruising. 

Thanks to nationwide environmental organizations, efforts to remove ADVs are increasing with help from federal agencies. The Annapolis-based nonprofit, BoatUS Foundation, recently received a $10 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from its Marine Debris Removal Program. This competitive four-year grant program will support the BoatUS Foundation’s efforts toward Boating Safety and Clean Water. It is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law through NOAA’s mission to address the marine debris crisis. 

Three derelict vessels moor on a sunken wreck near the Intracoastal Waterway in North Lake, FL, creating potential pollution, navigation and safety hazards | Credit Rick Legow

In addition to vessel removal, BoatUS Foundation’s project will also develop a national database to track ADVs and support educational research. This database will include an added focus on ADV impact in underserved communities. Most of the funds are dedicated to complete marine debris removal programs along the nation’s coastal regions, as well as extending into the Great Lakes.

BoatUS Foundation Director of Outreach, Alanna Keating, says the team is in the beginning stages of the project and looks forward to working with partners, stakeholders, local government and communities to tackle this large-scale issue nationwide. 

“We want to look at why ADVs happen, how to address them on a local and state level, how to be efficient and work through the process with states and entities involved to streamline a structured, efficient removal,” says Keating. 

“We’ll utilize that information we receive to work toward the prevention aspect — what can we do to help remove the barriers that prevent people from proper disposal? Whether it’s a cost or permitting issue, access to sustainable disposal, etc., this will give us ideas about how to work on national and state-level prevention.”

BoatUS says they are working diligently to get the project off the ground and see the impact. Stay tuned for updates at

The NOAA Marine Debris Program awarded 14 recipients, totaling $69 million in federal funding over the 2022-2023 fiscal years. In addition to the BoatUS Foundation, NOAA grantees include the Center for Coastal Studies (New England), Gulf of Mexico Alliance (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas), Isla Mar Research Expeditions (Puerto Rico) and more. To learn more, visit

For more information on ADVs, read Marinalife’s recent Eco-Friendly Boating column.

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