New initiative to look at the rise in abandoned boats


New initiative to look at the rise in abandoned boats - Yachting Monthly

The number of abandoned boats around the coasts of the UK and Europe is growing. Now a new initiative is to look at the scale of the problem

The scale of boat dumping around the UK and North-East Atlantic is to be examined as part of efforts to tackle the growing problem of end-of-life vessels.

Under the new Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter, the UK Government's Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is working with other countries to 'map the scale of the issue' across the North-East Atlantic region.

It plans to 'develop guidance to improve waste management for recreational vessels that are no longer wanted or fit for use,' said a DEFRA spokesperson.

The Welsh Government is also funding a three year Nature Marine Litter project to raise awareness of abandoned boats, which starts in the autumn.

A senior advisor to Natural Resources Wales, Dawn Beech, said: 'We are working with partners to increase awareness within the boating community of the financial and environmental impacts of flytipping boats. We are also working to influence end-of-life solutions, as well as tackling existing hotspots.'


Often, the cost of responsible disposal has to be picked up by harbour authorities or local councils. Last year, Cornwall's Port of Truro spent £125,000 to remove two abandoned boats.


The UK Harbour Masters' Association said the problem is getting worse, especially in popular sailing areas like the south east and south west, and members are now collating figures on abandoned boats.

'It's always been an issue but we have seen an increase post-COVID,' explained the association's chief executive, Captain Martin Willis.

'Many people didn't have the opportunity to visit their boats and now they have degraded and require a lot of expenditure to get back to a serviceable condition. For boats at the lower end, the option for some is to abandon them. Also the boat buying boom during COVID meant some people bought boats unaware of the attention they require and costs to keep them serviceable and in good condition. Now, with the cost of living squeeze some people are just walking away from their responsibilities.'

Captain Willis said harbours ask for proof of ownership and boat insurance when a yacht is moored there, but this doesn't help in tracking down boat owners who default on harbour or mooring dues. He would like to see a national registration scheme for boats.


In 2019, the European Boating Association (EBA) set up a working party to examine the legacy of existing end-of-life GRP and composite boats and how future designs could take into account dismantling and the use of recyclable materials.

It concluded that as well as ensuring boats are designed and built from material which can be reused, recycled and recovered as much as possible, extended producer responsibility should also be introduced.

This could be via a levy on new boat sales to fund disposal or by allowing owners to pass old boats back to their original builders, where possible, who would then dispose of them.

In Wales, abandoned boats can be reported at

by Katy Stickland, Yachting Monthly, July 18, 2022


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