VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — Officials with the City of Venice are raising concerns about derelict and abandoned vessels in Roberts Bay. It’s not necessarily a new issue, but they say it’s a constant one.

“This is just a very popular area to anchor or to moor your vessel. Most of the time, it is great and people are coming and going and using the area appropriately, but a lot of times, we end up with derelict vessels that are abandoned in place. They end up causing environmental issues, navigational hazards and a lot of times they will end up sinking or becoming detached and harming someone’s personal property,” explained assistant city manager James Clinch.

Source: City of Venice

During Hurricane Ian last year, Clinch says at least five vessels in the bay broke loose and sunk. One was removed. The city is waiting on state resources to help them remove the others.

“It is a lot of expense, it is a lot of time, and it is hazardous for our local environment. The City of Venice does derelict removal itself, it does take local tax dollars to do it, but because of the hurricane, and because they were so many, we are leaning on some state resources with that removal. We do typically remove one a quarter that just stinks on its own due to being abandoned in that area,” explained Clinch.

Now, he and and officer with the city’s Marine Patrol are pushing for new regulations in the bay, but they need Sarasota County to get on board with implementing an anchorage limitation area that would essentially put a 45-day cap on anchoring in the bay. This week, Venice City Council agreed to send a letter to the county with the request.

“It definitely would help kind of with some of these vessels that have been abandoned or left here for literally years. We would be able to kind of filter those out of the area,” said the assistant city manager.

He says the way the state statute is drafted, Sarasota County has the authority to implement the change, but because most of the jurisdiction falls within the city limits, local police would likely enforce the change.

Sarasota County send 8 On Your Side the following statement.

The City of Venice is considering asking Sarasota County to establish an anchorage limitation area of Roberts Bay. Once a formal request is made, the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners will consider the item with public hearings and staff presentations. Following the adoption of the code amendments to Chapter 130, the county then applies to the state through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish the anchoring areas.  Article II of Chapter 130 lists all of the established boating safety speed zones in Sarasota County from Marina Jack down to Englewood. There are also manatee protection speed zones which are separate from the boating safety speed zones and are established by the state.

Source: City of Venice

Residents who live along the bay front feel the change in regulations is needed to protect public safety and the environment.

“If they put a limitation to the anchoring and make sure they keep the boats far enough out, then I think it will make all the difference in the world. Those boats will look a good out there, they will be in good repair, they won’t be moving, and the bay will return to what I believe it was intended for to begin with, for people to paddleboard, kayak, and for the little sailboats to train out there,” said Venice resident Joy Chard.