Derelict Vessel Program

What is the Derelict Vessel Program?

Derelict and abandoned vessels threaten the health and safety of the marine environment including wildlife and people. San Juan County’s Derelict Vessel Program works to remove and dispose of derelict and abandoned vessels in the County’s waters. The program also works with partners to identify vessels at risk of becoming derelict or abandoned.

We need everyone’s help to identify and locate derelict vessels. If you have found a vessel appears to be derelict or abandoned report it to us!  

Report a Vessel page


The Derelict Vessel Removal Program

San Juan County’s Removal Program is closely coordinated with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). The WDNR are able to: 

  • Reimburse 90% of the costs of salvage, removal and demolition. 
  • Created an inventory of derelict and abandoned vessels in the waters of Washington State. 
  • Developed criteria to prioritize these vessels listed in the inventory for removal. Because the funding of the derelict vessel removal account is limited each year, these criteria include consideration of environmental protection, threats to human health and safety, as well as threats to navigation, so the most damaging vessels can be removed first.
A derelict, abandoned sail boat cast up on a beach

The Derelict Vessel Prevention Program 

San Juan County implemented the Derelict Vessel Prevention Program in 2013. This was the first of its kind in Washington State. 

The Prevention Program acts like preventive medicine in identifying vessels which if not attended to, will end up in the Removal Program. The costs of salvage and demolition far exceeds the costs of preventing a vessel from sinking, polluting, or causing damage in the first place.

The primary goal of the Prevention Program is to keep vessels of concern from becoming bigger problems that incur more costs and damage the environment. 

  • In 2012 we responded to 19 vessels that either sank or were in trouble, this cost you as taxpayers ~$76,500. 
  • In 2013 we only removed 4 vessels, but dealt with 49 vessels of concern for $23,500. 

Since 2013, the number of abandoned, derelict, or sunken vessels has continued to drop in County waters thanks to the prevention program, benefiting both the environment and you the taxpayer! 

Helm of a derelict sail boat
derelict boat on a beach
Derelict sail boat with notice attached

How is the Derelict Vessel Program funded? 

  • The derelict vessel removal program is funded by a combination of the state (up to 90% of costs) and an interlocal agreement between the Port of Friday Harbor, the Town of Friday Harbor and the County (10%). 
  • The derelict vessel prevention program is 100% funded by community donations and grants. 


It is important that we continue this work to prevent derelict vessels from polluting our waters and becoming safety hazards. We are making every effort to secure state and federal funding to continue the program, but we need your help to make sure there is no gap in this service. 

Donations can be made to:
San Juan County Public Works
Marine Program
Attn:  Derelict Vessel Prevention Program
P.O. Box 729
Friday Harbor, WA 98250