(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Commission” means the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
(b) “Derelict vessel” means a vessel, as defined in s. 327.02, that is: 1. In a wrecked, junked, or substantially dismantled condition upon any waters of this state.
a. A vessel is wrecked if it is sunken or sinking; aground without the ability to extricate itself absent mechanical assistance; or remaining after a marine casualty, including, but not limited to, a boating accident, extreme weather, or a fire.
b. A vessel is junked if it has been substantially stripped of vessel components, if vessel components have substantially degraded or been destroyed, or if the vessel has been discarded by the owner or operator. Attaching an outboard motor to a vessel that is otherwise junked will not cause the vessel to no longer be junked if such motor is not an effective means of propulsion as required by s. 327.4107(2)(e) and associated rules. c. A vessel is substantially dismantled if at least two of the three following vessel systems or components are missing, compromised, incomplete, inoperable, or broken:
(I) The steering system;
(II) The propulsion system; or
(III) The exterior hull integrity.
Attaching an outboard motor to a vessel that is otherwise substantially dismantled will not cause the vessel to no longer be substantially dismantled if such motor is not an effective means of propulsion as required by s. 327.4107(2)(e) and associated rules.
2. At a port in this state without the consent of the agency having jurisdiction thereof.
3. Docked, grounded, or beached upon the property of another without the consent of the owner of the property.
(c) “Gross negligence” means conduct so reckless or wanting in care that it constitutes a conscious disregard or indifference to the safety of the property exposed to such conduct.
(d) “Willful misconduct” means conduct evidencing carelessness or negligence of such a degree or recurrence as to manifest culpability, wrongful intent, or evil design or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of the interests of the vessel owner.
(2)(a) A person, firm, or corporation may not leave any derelict vessel upon waters of this state. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “leave” means to allow a vessel to remain occupied or unoccupied on the waters of this state for more than 24 hours.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a person who owns or operates a vessel that becomes derelict upon the waters of this state solely as a result of a boating accident that is reported to law enforcement in accordance with s. 327.301 or otherwise reported to law enforcement; a hurricane; or another sudden event outside of his or her control may not be charged with a violation if:
1. The individual documents for law enforcement the specific event that led to the vessel being derelict upon the waters of this state; and
2. The vessel has been removed from the waters of this state or has been repaired or addressed such that it is no longer derelict upon the waters of this state:
a. For a vessel that has become derelict as a result of a boating accident or other sudden event outside of his or her control, within 7 days after such accident or event; or
b. Within 45 days after the hurricane has passed over the state.
(c) The additional time provided in subparagraph (b)2. for an owner or responsible party to remove a derelict vessel from the waters of this state or to repair and remedy the vessel’s derelict condition does not apply to a vessel that was derelict upon the waters of this state before the stated accident or event.
(d) Notwithstanding the additional 45 days provided in sub-subparagraph (b)2.b. during which an owner or a responsible party may not be charged for a violation of this section, the commission, an officer of the commission, a law enforcement agency or officer specified in s. 327.70, or, during a state of emergency declared by the Governor, the Division of Emergency Management or its designee, may immediately begin the process set forth in s. 705.103(2)(a) and, once that process has been completed and the 45 days provided herein have passed, any vessel that has not been removed or repaired such that it is no longer derelict upon the waters of this state may be removed and destroyed as provided therein. (3) The commission, an officer of the commission, or a law enforcement agency or officer specified in s. 327.70 may relocate, remove, and store or cause to be relocated, removed, and stored a derelict vessel from waters of this state as defined in s. 327.02 if the derelict vessel obstructs or threatens to obstruct navigation or in any way constitutes a danger to the environment, property, or persons. The commission, an officer of the commission, or any other law enforcement agency or officer acting pursuant to this subsection to relocate, remove, and store or cause to be relocated, removed, and stored a derelict vessel from waters of this state shall be held harmless for all damages to the derelict vessel resulting from such action unless the damage results from gross negligence or willful misconduct. (a) All costs, including costs owed to a third party, incurred by the commission, another law enforcement agency, or a governmental subdivision, when the governmental subdivision has received authorization from a law enforcement officer or agency, in the relocation, removal, storage, destruction, or disposal of a derelict vessel are recoverable against the vessel owner or the party determined to be legally responsible for the vessel being upon the waters of this state in a derelict condition. The Department of Legal Affairs shall represent the commission in actions to recover such costs. As provided in s. 705.103(4), a person who neglects or refuses to pay such costs may not be issued a certificate of registration for such vessel or for any other vessel or motor vehicle until such costs have been paid. A person who has neglected or refused to pay all costs of removal, storage, destruction, or disposal of a derelict vessel as provided in this section, after having been provided written notice via certified mail that such costs are owed, and who applies for and is issued a registration for a vessel or motor vehicle before such costs have been paid in full commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(b) A contractor performing such activities at the direction of the commission, an officer of the commission, a law enforcement agency or officer, or a governmental subdivision, when the governmental subdivision has received authorization for the relocation or removal from a law enforcement officer or agency, pursuant to this section must be licensed in accordance with applicable United States Coast Guard regulations where required; obtain and carry in full force and effect a policy from a licensed insurance carrier in this state to insure against any accident, loss, injury, property damage, or other casualty caused by or resulting from the contractor’s actions; and be properly equipped to perform the services to be provided.
(4)(a) Removal of derelict vessels under this subsection may be funded by grants provided in s. 206.606.
(b) The commission may implement a plan for the procurement of any available federal disaster funds and use such funds for the removal of derelict vessels.
(c) The commission may establish a program to provide grants to local governments for the removal, storage, destruction, and disposal of derelict vessels from the waters of this state. This grant funding may also be used for the removal, storage, destruction, and disposal of vessels declared a public nuisance pursuant to s. 327.73(1)(aa). The program must be funded from the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund or the Florida Coastal Protection Trust Fund. Notwithstanding s. 216.181(11), funds available for these grants may only be authorized by appropriations acts of the Legislature. In a given fiscal year, if all funds appropriated pursuant to this paragraph are not requested by and granted to local governments for the removal, storage, destruction, and disposal of derelict vessels or vessels declared a public nuisance pursuant to s. 327.73(1)(aa) by the end of the third quarter, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission may use the remainder of the funds to remove, store, destroy, and dispose of, or to pay private contractors to remove, store, destroy, and dispose of, derelict vessels or vessels declared a public nuisance pursuant to s. 327.73(1)(aa). The commission shall adopt by rule procedures for local governments to submit a grant application and criteria for allocating available funds. Such criteria must include, at a minimum, the following:
1. The number of derelict vessels within the jurisdiction of the applicant.
2. The threat posed by such vessels to public health or safety, the environment, navigation, or the aesthetic condition of the general vicinity.
3. The degree of commitment of the local government to maintain waters free of abandoned and derelict vessels and to seek legal action against those who abandon vessels in the waters of this state as defined in s. 327.02. (5) When a derelict vessel is docked, grounded, or beached upon private property without the consent of the owner of the property, the owner of the property may remove the vessel at the vessel owner’s expense 60 days after compliance with the notice requirements specified in s. 328.17(5). The private property owner may not hinder reasonable efforts by the vessel owner or the vessel owner’s agent to remove the vessel. Notice given pursuant to this subsection is presumed to be delivered when it is deposited with the United States Postal Service, certified, and properly addressed with prepaid postage.
(6) A person, firm, or corporation violating this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree and shall be punished as provided by law. A conviction under this section does not bar the assessment and collection of a civil penalty. The court having jurisdiction over the criminal offense, notwithstanding any jurisdictional limitations on the amount in controversy, may order the imposition of such civil penalty in addition to any sentence imposed for the first criminal offense.
(7) If an owner or a responsible party of a vessel determined to be derelict through an administrative or criminal proceeding has been charged by an officer of the commission or any law enforcement agency or officer as specified in s. 327.70 under subsection (6) for a violation of subsection (2), a person may not reside or dwell on such vessel until the vessel is removed from the waters of the state permanently or returned to the waters of the state in a condition that is no longer derelict.