ALEA's Battle Against Abandoned Vessels

As the sun rises over Alabama's serene waterways, a silent menace lurks beneath the surface - abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs). These vessels, once proud symbols of maritime adventure, now stand as eyesores, polluting our pristine waters and posing hazards to navigation. In response to this growing issue, Alabama enacted Act 2018-179 on June 1, 2018, establishing a formal statewide program administered by the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to tackle ADVs head-on.

Funding the Fight

The Alabama Abandoned and Derelict Vessel Fund, established in June 2018 and managed by the Secretary of ALEA, serves as the financial backbone of the state's efforts to combat ADVs. This fund covers a spectrum of expenses, including seizure, removal, transportation, preservation, storage, advertisement, appraisal, and disposal of derelict vessels. By allocating resources to address each stage of the ADV removal process, Alabama demonstrates its commitment to safeguarding its waterways for future generations.

Legislative Arsenal

Under Act 2018-179, law enforcement officers and private property owners are empowered to remove ADVs under certain conditions. Moreover, Alabama's legal framework arms authorities with the necessary tools to combat this issue effectively. Section 35-13-1 of the Code of Alabama 1975 permits individuals to secure "all property adrift," ensuring prompt action to prevent further harm caused by wandering vessels. Additionally, statutes such as §33-1-33 impose fines on owners or agencies failing to remove dangerous or derelict vessels from state harbors, incentivizing swift compliance with ADV removal regulations.

Stakeholder Collaboration

The fight against ADVs transcends governmental boundaries, requiring collaboration between various stakeholders. Non-governmental organizations like the Dog River Clearwater Revival, in partnership with Sea Grant and the NOAA Marine Debris Program, have played instrumental roles in ADV removal efforts. By leveraging expertise and resources from both public and private sectors, Alabama maximizes its capacity to address the ADV epidemic comprehensively.

Point of Contact

For individuals seeking assistance or reporting ADVs, several key points of contact are available:

  • ALEA: Authorized to take possession of and dispose of abandoned or derelict vessels.
  • Alabama State Port Authority: Exercises jurisdiction over the state's ports and administers relevant laws under Title 33 – Navigation.
  • Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: Enforces mooring restrictions on state-owned bottom lands through the Marine Patrol.


Alabama's proactive approach to combating abandoned and derelict vessels exemplifies its commitment to preserving its natural treasures. Through legislative initiatives, collaborative efforts, and strategic partnerships, the state navigates the turbulent waters of ADV proliferation with determination and resilience. As stewards of our waterways, it is incumbent upon us to join hands in this crucial endeavor, ensuring that Alabama's maritime legacy remains untarnished for generations to come.

In the battle against abandoned and derelict vessels, every action counts. Together, let us sail towards a cleaner, safer future for Alabama's waters.

white and brown boat on water during daytime
Photo by Drahomír Hugo Posteby-Mach / Unsplash
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