New DMV boat registration requirement aimed to ease problem with derelict boats

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) To prevent abandoned or derelict boats, new requirements to register and title vessels with the DMV were put in place in January.

"Previously, the law required all undocumented motorboats be documented with the state, this law doesn’t change that," said State Senator Peter Micciche, who sponsored the legislation. “The new law expands registration to include documented boats and barges that are in the water for more than 90 days a year.”

Micciche said that the bill was designed to identify owners of vessels that are problematic around the state to prevent derelict or abandoned boats.

"It provided the tools to deal with those derelict vessels before they end up at the bottom of state waters," he said.

According to Frances Leach, the executive director of United Fisherman of Alaska, some fishermen aren't too happy about the new changes, partly because they didn't know they were there until recently.

“We saw this was poorly executed, there really wasn’t any public notice that went out to advise the vessel owners," she said.

According to Rachel Lord, the executive secretary for the Alaska Association of Harbor Masters and Port Administrators, this registration helps solve a big issue.

“Tracking ownership in the state of Alaska was one of the biggest problems and highest priorities of something we need to fix in order to prevent derelict vessels and hold people personally accountable for their boat," Lord said.

Although, both Lord and Micciche agree that these new requirements were rolled out poorly.

“You have this large newly regulated community who has gotten no notification at all that they are now required to be registered with the state," Lord said.

“This year, to my understanding, this is going to be an educational year without enforcement," Micciche said. "The summer of 2020 would be when the enforcement will begin and I think that’s the recognition of the rollout being less effective than it could’ve been.”

Senator Micciche is a fisherman himself and said that requiring registration on a state level will hold boat owners accountable.

“I don’t believe in bigger government," he said. "I don’t believe in expanding regulation. This bill was specifically designed to identify the owners of vessels that were problematic throughout the state.”

Recreational boaters may also be affected. According to the DMV website, it is required that undocumented boat owners subject to registration that have vessels more than 24 feet apply for a certificate of title.

To see if your boat is subject to new requirements, view the SB 92 Derelict Vessels Act here.

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