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OR&R Supports State of Virginia in Addressing Abandoned and Derelict Vessels

JANUARY 19, 2021 — As with most coastal states, abandoned and derelict vessels (ADV) has become a major problem in our waterways. In most cases, these ADVs, are commonly abandoned, often in disrepair and without ownership.

Sinking boat near a dock.

However, regardless of whether these ADVs were intentionally abandoned by their owners or the results of weather events, such as hurricanes, their increasing numbers are resulting in measurable impacts to our marine environment, navigational waterways and communities.  Physical impacts include the accumulation of marine debris that impact both private and public lands, adversely affect critical habitat, such as submerged aquatic vegetation and oyster reefs, and present a threat of oil and hazardous pollutants being released contaminating fish, shellfish, wildlife and the habitats that these resources need to survive.

Over the past few years, OR&R, including our Marine Debris Program (MDP) and Emergency Response Division (ERD) have been supporting state efforts to address ADVs. Virginia is one of the more recent states planning to address the ADV problem with support from OR&R.

Recently, the state of Virginia created “The Virginia Abandoned and Derelict Vessel Work Group” (VA-ADV Work Group).  This work group is a result of interest by many agencies, nonprofits, and members of the boating committee to address the issues of abandoned and derelict vessels in Virginia. The VA-ADV Work Group plans to coordinate an examination of the issues surrounding recreational, commercial, and “legacy” ADVs in VA, focusing on solutions that have been attempted or implemented in other states with well-developed programs. Acknowledging the impact of ADVs on navigation, ecosystems, economies, and communities, this work group will include representatives from pollution regulatory agencies, marine law enforcement, marinas, tribes, nonprofit organizations, the boating community, coastal management, coastal policy and other interested parties. Facilitation of the Work Group will be provided by Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University with support from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program.

Initially, the work group will focus on these programmatic elements:

  • Authority
  • Funding
  • Removal and deconstruction
  • Prevention
  • Public outreach and education
  • Building an inventory of ADV in Virginia
  • Other topics as determined by the work group

For further information, please contact,, or, all with the Marine Debris Program or with the Emergency Response Division.

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Last updated Friday, January 22, 2021 4:04pm PST