Statewide Anchoring and Mooring Rules Proposed
30-day limit would supersede Clearwater's 3-day limit
By Carl Wagenfohr
CLEARWATER – It started in 2006 with the concern of a Dade County waterfront homeowner about a sailboat that had been anchored in the bay for an extended period. Why, he asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), did there appear to be no regulation of boats stored on the state's waterways?
Two years, thirteen public meetings and over one thousand public interactions later, FWC staff have provided an answer in the form of statewide legislation they are proposing for enactment in 2009.
The proposed legislation, which addresses a variety of waterway management issues in addition to unregulated anchoring, would provide statewide consistency of boating regulations and better manage the growing use of the state's waterways according to FWC Major Paul Oullette.
But that consistency would come at the expense of what some local governments perceive as their Home Rule right to establish regulations unique to their own circumstances.
While the proposal continues to prohibit anchoring of unattended vessel within a 500-foot buffer zone around public mooring/marina facilities, it limits the ability of a county or municipality to regulate the length of time a vessel would be allowed to anchor overnight.
Currently, the City of Clearwater limits overnight anchorage to no more than 3 days within a 30-day period. That conflicts with the proposed legislation, which would permit a county or city to pass an ordinance prohibiting vessels from overnight anchoring for more than 30 consecutive nights or for more than a total of 120 nights in a year.
That concerns Clearwater Harbormaster Bill Morris. Live-aboard boaters would be able to anchor for 30 days each in Dunedin, Clearwater and Belleair for example, and then repeat the cycle – conforming with the proposed legislation but never moving more than 5 miles in the process. The proposed rules could have an unintended consequence of establishing a small radius live aboard community in local waters, exposing waterfront homeowners to the presence of uninvited neighbors in greater numbers and for longer periods of time.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission is having its final hearing on this issue before the 2009 legislative session on December 3rd in Key West. Comments can be sent via email to Anchoring.Mooring@myfwc.com. The proposed legislation can be read in its entirety at http://myfwc.com/boating/Docs/Boating2009.pdf.
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