KBB launches $100,000 appeal to fund removal of abandoned boats

An environmental charity has set out to raise more than $100,000 to remove scores of abandoned boats that litter the island’s waters.

Keep Bermuda Beautiful said it has launched fundraising efforts to tackle the problem of wrecked boats, which the charity said posed a danger to boaters, swimmers and the environment because they leaked fuel and oil into the water.

A notice in the Official Gazette from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources this week warned that 37 abandoned boats had been targeted for removal in a joint exercise with KBB.

But Kate Berry, the charity’s executive director, said the boats represented only the first phase of the project.

Ms Berry added: “After several months of preparatory work, KBB is excited to start this important initiative with three private marine contractors.

“While we’ve identified more than 100 abandoned vessels on moorings, on the sea floor, along coastlines and in our bays, KBB is focusing its initial efforts on the removal of 37 wrecks in St David’s, Southampton and Sandys.

“KBB has received funding from two anonymous donors and the Argo Group that will cover the removal, remediation and safe disposal of the wrecks and their hazardous contents including fuel, oil and batteries.”

The charity said many of the vessels had been abandoned for years and had started to break apart, which created debris that could threaten coral reefs and marine life.

KBB has started to seek out donations to help remove wrecked boats from Ely’s Harbour, Foot of the Lane, Mills Creek, Ducks Puddle, Jews Bay and Franks Bay.

Ms Berry said: “The removal of these additional boats will cost in excess of $100,000. KBB is launching a public appeal to raise these funds.

“With community support, KBB is confident it can clean up the legacy of abandoned and wrecked boats.”

But Ms Berry warned: “We can’t keep cleaning up. We must take action to change legislation to require boat owners to insure their vessels and have their moorings serviced.

“With a commitment from both the Government and local insurance companies, KBB has initiated the conversations necessary to establish a dedicated fund that will finance the environmental clean-up associated with abandoned and derelict boats in the future.”

Ms Berry said: “KBB thanks the initial anonymous donor who inspired this project and for their support throughout the development of this initiative and the government teams who have helped to establish a programme for change.

“Wrecked boats cause untold environmental damage; they are the largest form of litter we experience on our island.

“KBB is proud to bring the many organisations and individuals together to make this ambitious clean up possible.”

Lawrence Scott, the Minister of Transport, said the Government was pleased to work with KBB and was committed to safeguarding the island’s marine environment.

Mr Scott added: “The joint Government- KBB initiative to clean up abandoned and derelict boats will make our waters safer by removing navigation hazards and reducing pollution, help to protect our marine species and corals and preserve our beautiful waters.

“Abandoned and wrecked vessels have no place in Bermuda.

“I am extremely grateful to KBB for leading the charge and bringing our community together to help solve this environmental challenge.”