VERY IMPORTANT – Florida Fish and Wildlife Service (FWC) Asks The Cruising Community’s Opinion of the Pilot Mooring Field Program
Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 09-18-2013
It has been almost two years since yours truly journeyed to St. Augustine, Florida by “land yacht” to speak at a public forum dedicated to considering what local anchorage regulations should be enacted in regards to this community’s participation in the Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program. I came away with the frustrated feeling, which proved to be correct, that the city of St. Augustine was going to recommend a 30-day anchorage limit for boats which dropped the hook outside of the official mooring field. Fortunately, the FWC shot down this limit, and it was never put into effect.
There followed months and months of local forums and countless messages and editorials here on the Cruisers’ Net about what sort of anchorage regulations should, or should NOT, be adopted in the cities selected for the Pilot Mooring Field Program. A group in the Florida Keys, known as BARR, even sprang into being for awhile, with the sole purpose of fighting for sensible anchorage regulations in the Florida Keys (all of Monroe County, which encompasses the Florida Keys, is one of the selected Pilot Mooring Field sites).
The Pilot Mooring Field Program has been going forward in multiple Florida locales for almost a year now, and, wonder of wonders, it looks as if the Florida Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWC”) IS ACTUALLY ASKING FOR INPUT FROM THE CRUISING COMMUNITY AS TO HOW THIS PROGRAM IS WORKING! THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR COLLECTIVE VOICES TO BE HEARD WHERE IT REALLY COUNTS. The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net urges as many of our readers as possible to FOLLOW THE LIVE LINK IN THE MESSAGE BELOW, AND LET THE FWC KNOW HOW YOU REALLY FEEL ABOUT THE MOORING FIELD PROGRAM!!!
For those of you who have had your head in the proverbial sand for the last several years, as part of the new Florida Anchoring Law, passed by the Florida Legislature in 2009, there was a political give and take included in the negotiations which surrounded this bill. This is a vast oversimplification, but, to summarize, in return for taking away the power of Florida cities and counties to regulate anchorage, the bill included a “Pilot Mooring Field Program,” which would allow a multi-year study, in multiple Florida cities, as to how mooring fields would serve the needs of cruisers and land owners alike, and what, if any, anchorage regulations might be appropriate for vessels that drop the hook outside the official mooring field, but still within the corporate limits of the communities participating in the pilot program.
The law which authorized the Pilot Mooring Field Program has an automatic sunset date in July,2014. Thereafter, the idea is that the Florida legislature will take all the lessons learned from this trial program, and ENACT A PERMANENT, UNIFORM, STATEWIDE SERIES OF ANCHORAGE REGULATIONS! Now, do you see why it’s SO important for the voice of the cruising community to be heard!!!
PLEASE READ ON!
In 2009, the Florida Legislature enacted a temporary pilot program to explore potential options for regulating the anchoring or mooring of
non-live-aboard vessels outside the marked boundaries of public mooring fields. The City of St. Augustine, the City of St. Petersburg, the City of Sarasota, the City of Stuart in conjunction with Martin County, and the cities of Key West and Marathon in conjunction with Monroe County were granted temporary authority to regulate mooring in their jurisdictional waters through local ordinance. All ordinances enacted under authority of the pilot program will expire on July 1, 2014 and will be inoperative and unenforceable thereafter, unless reenacted by the Legislature.
You, your partners, and interested members have the opportunity to provide valuable input on the Anchoring and Mooring Pilot Program. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is seeking help from cruising boaters, local boaters, and residents in evaluating the effectiveness and fairness of the temporary ordinances and the pilot program.
FWC has created and posted a survey at http://www.myfwc.com/anchoringsurvey which should take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The Survey will be available from September 18th until October 7th, 2013. Your prompt participation would be appreciated.
There is also a survey link on our Boating and Waterways webpage at http://www.myfwc.com/boating/.
Thank you for your time and effort.
Captain Tom Shipp,
FWC / DLE / Boating and Waterways
It is important for cruising boaters to answer in order to counteract the claims of those pushing this anti-anchoring law. Basically, the bottom line is the law promotes the opposite of one of its stated purposes–to promote access to the waters of the state. Obviously, if you put in moorings nobody can anchor in those waters, so unless you want to pay to play and like using a mooring, you’re out of luck. And the moorings prevent anchoring 24/7, year-round, whether or not there is someone on them. I have personally been anchored in the tiny portion of water still available in Marathon and observed the majority of mooring balls empty, while the anchorage was jam-packed full. Sure, in high season the moorings are popular, but year-round they prevent anchoring in most of the harbor. It is very simple, this law was pushed through for one purpose–to chase away anchored boats, and it has done so.