Abandoned boats plucked from Jamaica Bay

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Operation Clean Bay was in full swing last week, as workers continued to rid Jamaica Bay of derelict vessels.

Early in the morning of June 17, the National Parks Service was joined by Sheepshead Bay-based White Cap Marine Towing and Salvage, a local business hoping to do its part to help the environment.

The initiative is headed by the National Parks Service in conjunction with a host of state and city agencies. The goal is to remove long-forgotten boats from the bay, vessels that can pose both navigational and environmental hazards.

So far, Clean Bay has removed approximately 30 vessels from the water, according to John Daskalakis, the district ranger for the north shore district for the National Parks Service.

Between 80 and 200 boats still await removal from the bay, a body of water covering 25,000 acres.

White Cap’s Bernie Schachner said his business is donating its time and equipment to remove abandoned boats. “For now we are doing this absolutely gratis,” he said. The hope is in the future, he noted, public funds might be made available to pay for some of their work.

“Aside from ruining the environment, when a vessel stays on the beach it becomes a safety hazard,” he said. “Staying on the beach gathers vermin and rats.”

Schachner and his brother Jack have been running their business for the past 30 years.

“We see these boats turn up every other day. And now, with the economy so bad, people just leave them,” he continued.

The proper removal of a boat can range in price from $1500-$5,000, depending on the size, Schachner said.

Operation Clean Bay is a group effort, with the U.S. Coast Guard, state Department of Environmen-tal Conservation, NYPD, city Department of Environmen-tal Protection, and the city’s Department of Small Business Services’ Dock-master Unit all involved.

Dumping a boat is a violation of city, state and federal laws.

To report illegal boat dumping, call 718-338-3718.

—Gary Buiso

Updated 3:45 pm, October 19, 2011
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