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Abandoned Derelict Boats

Recreational boats are abandoned or become derelict for many reasons.  Derelict and abandoned vessels can cause various problems in and outside of marinas, including water quality degradation, pollution, and damage to public and private property when they sink or go adrift. In marinas, they take up valuable slip space and can be a source of pollution. They also decrease the aesthetic value of the area and create hazards for responsible boaters.


Preventing a boat from becoming abandoned or derelict can reduce the impact on the environment and society.

​Abandoned vessels are those left without authorization on public or private land, or State waters.  Derelict vessels are those vessels that are sinking, actively polluting, obstructing a waterway, or endangering life or property.

An enforcement agency has the authority to seize vessels that meet these definitions.

​•  Keep your registration current.

Consider insuring your vessel.

Keep your vessel in good working condition; ensure it is seaworthy and can move under its own power.

If you are selling your boat, make sure the boat is going to good hands and inform the Marine Board of the transfer of ownership (Bill of Sale)​.  If you don’t, you could end up with the bill for removing the vessel if it becomes abandoned or derelict down-the-road.

Have an end-of-life plan for your vessel.  For ways to dispose of your vessel see the information on boat disposal options​.

  • Dispose of hazardous materials properly (batteries, instrumentation, fuels, etc.).
  • Recycle any valuable parts or metals.
  • Bring vessel to a boat salvage shop for proper dismantle or to the landfill if it is small enough.

​Call your local County Sheriff’s Office if a boat appears to have become abandoned or derelict. Call 911 if the boat is involved in an emergency.  If you wish to report the boat to the Marine Board as well, please use the reporting form​.

Signs that a boat is at risk of becoming, or already is, an abandoned or derelict vessel include:

Listing to one side;

Bilge pump that runs frequently to expel water from the hull;

Severe external deterioration of wood, paint, or other materials;

Unusual quantities of growth of algae, moss, grass, or other plant material covering the boat;

Leaking fluids such as oil, fuel, or waste;

Drifting from moorage or docks;

Appearance of being illegally moored;

No movement in more than 30 days.

​Oregon has an abandoned and derelict vessel (ADV) program that is managed by the Oregon State Marine Board. The program includes legislation and procedures for delegating authority to an enforcement agency to seize and remove abandoned and derelict vessels from state lands and waters (ORS 830.908 through 830.944​). Oregon’s ADV program does not address the taking of abandoned or derelict vessels that occur on private property, which must be dealt with through abandoned property laws or reported to an appropriate enforcement agency.

​Oregon law authorizes the Oregon State Marine Board to establish and maintain an Abandoned and Derelict Vessel Removal Fund. Funds from this account, which are collected from recreational boater titling and registration fees, are used to reimburse public enforcement agencies for expenses related to the removal of abandoned or derelict vessels. The Oregon State Marine Board must set aside $150,000 each biennium in order to provide funds to reimburse up to 90% of the costs associated with investigating, salvaging, towing, removing, storing or disposing of abandoned or derelict vessels.

Under this program, the owner of the vessel is liable to the enforcement agency for all costs arising out of the seizure and removal of the vessel.

​By-in-large, boats that are seized by the Marine Board or other authorities are rarely in seaworthy condition and often have very little value. The costs of repairs needed to make these boats seaworthy often exceed the boat's worth. Most of the watercraft that are seized were sold for cheap or given away to people without the means to maintain the boat, and they wind up sinking or are abandoned on unauthorized land. The best solution from having to seize the same vessel twice, is to dismantle, recycle and dispose of the boat is the preferred option.

Oregon’s ADV Program is administered by the Oregon State Marine Board, which then delegates authority for the removal and/or disposal of the vessel in question to the relevant enforcement agency under ORS 830.908 to ORS 830.948. The Oregon State Marine Board can be contacted by phone at 503-378-8587 or by email at

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