Heal the Ocean Convenes Boat Wreckage Task Force

Source: Heal the Ocean

Photo by Hillary Hauser. 

After grappling with two major boat wrecks on Santa Barbara County beaches in 2021 (and paying MarBorg Industries for the removal of one of them), Heal the Ocean has started this year working to find a solution to the problem. The HTO “Derelict Boat Task Force,” assembled by HTO Field Advisor Harry Rabin, had its first meeting on Monday, January 10, 2022, to discuss potential solutions to this persistent coastal hazard of unattended boats hitting the beach. 
The task force has agreed that the issue will need to be addressed using a combination of preventative measures and enforcement. Discussion included evaluation of mooring vs. anchoring and options for non-navigable boats, development and implementation of County ordinances to work with City ordinances for non-navigable boats, need for a population survey on moored and anchored boats to determine the number of boats that serve as shelter for those who would otherwise be unhoused, potential development of an on-demand contract with a towing or vessel assist company to respond to unoccupied drifting boats, and possible installation of a third-party radar system (Protective Seas M2) that would monitor boat movement and alert officials of potentially drifting boats. 
The Task Force consists of Kadie McShirley: County Supervisors Office of Sustainability; Todd Van Epps, CA Dept of Fish & Wildlife, Oil Spill Prevention & Response; Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams; Paul Ricketson, Coast Guard Oil Spill Response & Planning; Erik Engebretson, City of Santa Barbara Harbor Operations Manager; Jon Menzies, Aquatics Coordinator Santa Barbara County Parks; Butch Arnoldi,  County Sheriff; Harry Rabin, HTO Chair Task Force; and Hillary Hauser, Executive Director, Heal the Ocean.

Most photos by Harry Rabin.


Written by healtheocean

Heal the Ocean focuses on wastewater infrastructure – sewers and septic systems – as well as ocean dumping practices that have contributed to ocean pollution. They are focused on Santa Barbara County, but their methods now serve as a model for other coastal communities across the country. Learn more at https://www.healtheocean.org/

What do you think?


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  1. The County of Santa Barbara already charges a Personal or a Business Property Tax on all boats that are domiciled within the county. This IS a lot of revenue each year.
    The County should step right up and clean up any messes that occur each year without delay. No real additional cost to them since they already have a lot of employees and tractors that are ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice AND they are already charging and receiving fees from all boat owners in the area. I guess the big question is: Does Heal the Ocean solely pay for the clean up OR does the County kick in some or pay it all? IF the County does not pay it all, then why not, if they are already collecting related fees from all boat owners? Is this just a tax that goes in their big black hole of spending with no return to local residents and organizations, OR?…

  2. Hillary Hauser should get more praise from all corners of SB County. With little fanfare and no political bend she has accomplished more environmental wins for our area in less time than any other individual I can think of.

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