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September 20, 2017 12:40 pm EST
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 PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced today it has awarded grants totaling $29,678 to two Rhode Island communities to fund removal of abandoned vessels from local waters. The grants, awarded to the Town of Portsmouth and the Watch Hill Fire District in Westerly, are the latest in Rhode Island's ongoing efforts to support the cleanup of marine debris that may threaten the environment and navigational safety.

 

 "Marine refuse and, in particular, abandoned vessels pose a significant threat to the health of our waters and the safe passage of boaters," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Supporting efforts to remove obstructions is critical to the vitality of our waterways. We are pleased to be working with great partners in Portsmouth and Westerly to get these vessels safely removed for the benefit of boaters, wildlife, and valuable coastal habitats."


The Town of Portsmouth received $23,400 for the removal of an abandoned vessel in waters off Blue Bill Cove. The Watch Hill Fire District received $6,278 to fund removal of a second vessel on the shoreline of the Napatree Point Conservation Area; the boat had been destroyed by fire.

The grants were funded through Rhode Island's Derelict and Abandoned Vessel and Obstruction Removal Account. In 2012, this account, funded by a surcharge on boat registration fees, was established under RIGL §46-6-10 to assist harbormasters and other authorized public entities in covering the costs associated with removal, disposal, and/or sale of derelict and abandoned vessels and other obstructions. The law also established a commission to oversee grant recommendations. The commission is chaired by DEM - with members including the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, Save the Bay, Rhode Island Harbormaster's Association, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, and the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office.

For more information on the Derelict and Abandoned Vessel and Obstruction Removal grant program, visit www.dem.ri.gov or contact DEM.EnforcementChief@dem.ri.gov. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis - with priority given to emergency cases. Non-emergency applications are considered bi-annually.