BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — On Monday, damaged or displaced by Hurricane Ian, boat owners were feeling the pressure as officials from Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) announced the 45-day grace period for owners to remove their damaged boat, which ended on November 15.
Captain Mark Garcy, Owner of Cruise Fish Dive in Bonita Springs, said since Ian, he has been working with owners to remove everything from broken down–to completely underwater boats.
“That's the interesting part is there is actually quite a bit of them from this particular storm because it wasn't so much the wind, that created damages, its more than water that just lifted them up and put them in areas, so a lot of them are actually in good shape,” said Garcy.
For the out-of-shape boats, FWC said after November 15, if the state has to remove the boat–owners could end up paying the bill.
Owners who can't afford to remove their boat can transfer ownership over to the state by calling the hotline number below, there is a separate number for boats that are stranded on land.
Hurricane Ian Vessel Hotline- 850-488-5600
Vessels on Land-850-961-2002
On Monday, Captain Mark said boats stranded on land were creating accessibility issues for his team, primarily inside the mangroves,
“Number one you don't want to damage the mangroves, so there are laws and regulations about that,” said Garcy.
Garcy said there is still a lot of work to do, but the 45-day grace period should have been long enough to get the process started for boat owners.
“It might not be the perfect amount of time to get the job done, but I know working with FWC for many years, they are not out there to fine you, they want to at least have a plan in place,” said Garcy.
FWC reported over 3,000 boats across the state have been assessed since Ian and in Lee County, an area where many boats were damaged, 50 requests to transfer ownership have been filed.