Abandoned boats are latest environmental problem

Hundreds of thousands of small pleasure boats were built in the 1970s and now, unlike super yachts which tend to get rebuilt rather than scrapped many of theses smaller boats are nearing the end of their useful life and are destined to become an environmental hazard.

Most have been for sale for years but no-one wants to buy them and they are worth so little there is no point in doing them up.

The problem has being highlighted in Holland were some 25,000 abandoned boats are scattered around the Netherlands harbours and marinas, and could cause a major environmental problem, according to the Dutch yacht builders’ association.

In many cases, the owners can’t be traced or they can’t afford to have the boats towed away and destroyed.

It is pretty serious and it will only get worse,’ Jos Walther, of the Nieuwe Diep water sports association near Amsterdam said. ‘People have hardly any money and if they die, the boats are here for years.’

The boat builders want the government to establish a fund, paid for by government and the industry, which will pay for the destruction of the abandoned boats so that the plastics and metal can be recycled.

The country’s only boat wreckers yard, Het Harpje in Bovenkarspel, is currently breaking up three to six boats a week and cannot keep up with the demand.