Cornwall Council is seeking to get rid of a 17m former fishing boat which has been docked in Penzance Harbour for over 20 years and has been left to rot by its current owner. There is currently an issue with a number of abandoned boats which need to be sold or demolished in Cornish ports.

A meeting of Cornwall Harbours Board heard on Thursday, January 11, that the “live-aboard” vessel Karina Olsen was sold by its original owner with a condition that it was removed from the harbour within three months as it is taking up valuable berth space. However, the boat was resold without agreement with Penzance harbourmaster James Broughton and the new owner is not communicating with the authorities.

A council report stated: “Continuous attempts by the harbourmaster to make contact have come to no avail and with recent incidents with other unserviceable vessels the decision has been made to commence the process to take possession of the vessel. The owner was given until December 8 to contact the harbour office but has failed to do so.”

The meeting heard that the owner had not responded to six emails and a number of phone calls, and is currently in debt to the harbour for the sum of over £3,800. The Karina Olsen is in a deteriorating condition with no sign of maintenance and poses an increased risk to safety at the harbour. She has not been out of the water for at least four years and concern is rising over rotten planks and the presence of destructive gribble worm.

In order to reduce the risk of the boat sinking, Cornwall Harbours Board has the powers to sell, remove or scrap it, which can cost up to £70,000.

Maritime manager Chris Jones said there have been a large amount of live-aboard vessels in Penzance harbour since Penwith District Council days and this is one from that time. There are two other boats in Penzance that would also be costly to dispose. “We also have a large ex-fishing boat in Penryn, which has been there for many, many years.”

He said: “In Truro we have one vessel on the river, a former café [legal discussions are currently taking place with the owner of the Compton Castle for its removal from Lemon Quay], which would fall into that large category.

“There are a number of smaller boats as well but they are relatively straightforward to get rid of and not too costly, ranging between £1,500 and £2,000. It’s when you’ve got the large boats that you’ve got to break in situ that you get the large expense.”

Mr Jones added: “In terms of what we can do to stop it – there’s continuing lobbying in the industry for registration schemes but ultimately you need the owner to have money to dispose of the boat.

“These are all legacy issues; they’re not boats that have arrived on our watch. We are now really strict with any boat that comes in. If it highlights as a risk to us we’re making the harbours not so welcoming to such vessels. We’re also enforcing our by-laws, terms and conditions, and mooring licences.”

Cornwall councillor Peter Channon replied: “When’s it all going to end? We seem to be powerless to do anything about it. Owners are escaping from this because we’re not pursuing them.”

Mr Jones disagreed: “We are pursuing heavily the owner of the vessel and we’re taking legal advice.”

The harbours board is also looking to sell or demolish the following boats:

Port of Truro: ‘Rosie’ 24ft Ex Sailing yacht

‘Kylie’ 22ft Bilge Keel yacht

‘Oscar’ 18ft Bilge Keel yacht

No name. Hurley 22 bilge keel yacht

‘Calypso’ 25ft Triple Keel Yacht

‘Urchin’ Hurley 22

No name. Blue Mayland power boat

‘Babe’ white cabin boat.

Port of Penryn: No name. Wayfarer sailing dinghy

‘Nimrod’ 22ft sailing yacht

No name small black speed boat

‘1215’ small white motor boat.