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Fishing Vessel Grounds On Island

Assateague Island National Seashore

National Park News

The park and neighboring Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge have been working cooperatively with the Coast Guard to remove a grounded vessel from “the hook” at the southern tip of Assateague Island. The 77-foot-long, 160-ton fishing vessel Frieda Marie ran aground on August 3rd. The crew reportedly beached the vessel for safety reasons due to taking on water. The vessel’s owner has expended all available funds and has given up further claims to the boat. However, currently available documentation is not adequate to transfer title, and the federal government may be forced to pursue abandoned property proceedings. Any substantial threat of pollution has been eliminated through the response actions of the owner and the USCG. Residual contaminants remain a threat to piping plover populations and habitat. The vessel could eventually break up and litter the beach, affecting plover habitat. Components of the vessel are also reported to have asbestos and PCBs. The Coast Guard has worked diligently to remove the entire vessel under its emergency authorities, but agency mandates, strict authorities, and logistics have complicated the response action. The USCG generally does not address derelict vessels under the emergency authorities of the Oil Pollution Act, which is also the funding source for the response action. The refuge’s manager has assumed the lead for the Department of the Interior, with the park’s superintendent providing support to seek an effective solution to this grounded vessel.



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