Workers remove abandoned boats from Port Isabel waters

Various local and state agencies are working to remove abandoned and leaking boats from the navigation channels in Port Isabel.

The Texas General Land Office (TGLO) reached an agreement with the Port Isabel Navigation District and a local demolition company to remove almost 40 rusting boats from the water, as well as nearly 30,000 gallons of leak able fuel.

"We've seen countless spills, Joseph Hilliard with TGLO said. These spills not only harm the coastal waters here, but also affect our industry down here."

He added that not too long ago it was common to find boats leaking anywhere between 30-50 gallons of fuel into the waters in the navigation channel per week.

"Those clean ups can range anywhere from 4,000 all the way up to 10,000 dollars per clean up," Hilliard said.

However, under an agreement from the demolition company, the rusted sunken boats are torn apart and no taxpayer money is used. In exchange for the service, the company keeps the scrap metal.

But not everyone is on board this service. Orlando Ochoa is a life long shrimper. Like many other families in Port Isabel, it has been a way of life, but high costs of fuel and the falling prices make it tougher to subside off of shrimping.

The government is real hard on us, he said. The turtles have more rights that we do

Ochoa now makes a living as a taxi driver and goes out shrimping only several times a year, but lately he has been stuck on land fixing his two rusted boats, which will cost him almost $30,000.

Though he sees little return, he said the boats should be ready to head back out into the water in a month and a half.