Coalition Comments on Georgia’s HB 201
These comments pertaining to the Notice of Rule Making for Coastal Marshland Protection and Boating
Regulations are respectfully submitted on behalf of a coalition of boating associations formed several
years ago to protect cruisers’ anchoring rights. Our coalition includes America’s Great Loop Cruisers’
Association (AGLCA), Defever Cruisers Group, Marine Trawler Owners’ Association (MTOA) and Seven
Seas Cruising Association (SSCA). Collectively, our coalition represents approximately 12,000 active
We strongly believe that derelict and abandoned vessels, and vessels left unattended at anchor, are
major problems and that a solution to rid our waterways of these vessels is needed. They present
hazards to navigation, cause damage to property, and clog anchorages that would otherwise be useable
for responsible, active cruisers. However, the proposal to require a permit for short-term anchoring in
Georgia is unduly burdensome and creates a hindrance for boaters who want or need to “drop the
hook” in Georgia’s pristine anchorages.
While some of our members question the constitutionality of the law, we recognize DNR’s responsibility
is to implement the law as it stands. However, we believe the existing law and proposed rules are
fraught with potential problems on implementation. Below are questions and concerns brought forth by
our members related only to implementation, and the challenges inherent in the rules as proposed:
• Transient boaters entering Georgia may not be informed about the requirement to obtain a
permit and may inadvertently be in violation
• Weather, mechanical issues, and other factors beyond the boater’s control may prevent them
from planning enough in advance to obtain a permit (i.e., they may be forced to anchor when
and where they did not intend to)
• With some mobile service providers, service may not be available everywhere in the estuarine
areas of Georgia, leaving a boater unable to obtain a permit
• Local boaters object to needing a permit to spend a weekend at anchor in their “backyard”.
• Will DNR have the man-power to enforce the permit regulations?
• How will boaters know where they can anchor under the exclusionary approach that all
waterways are closed to anchoring except those that DNR designates as anchoring areas?
To address the permit issues, we suggest that a permit not be needed when anchoring in one location
for less than 60 days. Accordingly, we propose the language in 391-4-5-.23 (1) and (2) be amended as
(1) Anchoring or Docking Vessels at Night.
No person shall anchor or dock a vessel at night in the estuarine area of the state unless it is at an
eligible facility, as defined in O.C.G.A. 52-7-8.4, or in an anchorage area established by the Department
as outlined in paragraph (3), below. No boat may be left unattended at anchor for more than seven days.
If anchored for more than 60 days in one location, an anchorage permit as outlined in paragraph (2),
below, is required. This rule does not apply to the following:
A vessel docked at a private recreational dock or a non-eligible facility so long as such vessel is not
utilized as a live-aboard vessel, as defined in O.C.G.A. 52-7-8.4;
(2) Anchorage Permits.
(a) Vessels may not be anchored for more than 180 days in one location. Persons anchoring a vessel
for more than 60 days in one place in the estuarine area and within an anchorage area established by
the Department, must purchase and be in possession of an anchorage permit, except as provided
(b) Permit Fee.
1. A monthly anchorage permit is valid for 30 days and is available at a cost of $40.00.
2. Senior citizens (65 years of age or older), active duty military and veterans may purchase a
monthly anchorage permit at a fifty percent discount.
(c) Anchorage permits shall be available at all sites that sell hunting and fishing licenses, by phone and
(d) Anchorage permits may be printed or held electronically, but must be onboard the vessel at all
times and available for inspection upon request. When a vessel is unoccupied at night, any monthly
anchorage permit must be prominently displayed and visible from the water.
(e) Any person applying for an anchorage permit for a live-aboard vessel must certify to no discharge of
sewage, treated or untreated, into the estuarine area of the state.
(f) Exemptions to this rule may be granted by the Department for unique circumstances. Conditional
permission must be requested in writing to the Commissioner.
This solution eases the burden on, and the concerns of, the cruising community.
We recognize that, one reason to support the need for the permits is to give additional authority for law
enforcement to impound derelict, abandoned, and long-term stored vessels, as they are unlikely to have
a permit. Removing the obligation to obtain a permit for short-term stays does not interfere with the
goal of giving law enforcement additional leverage to deal with this very real issue.
With a permit not required for short-term anchoring, should DNR deem it necessary, our coalition would
support fees for monthly anchoring permits that are higher than those proposed.
Regarding the approved anchorage areas, we proposed a more inclusive approach where all areas are
open to anchoring with a few exceptions. We suggest that the language in 391-4-5-.23 (3) be amended
to specifically state that anchorage areas include all waterways, with restrictions only where anchoring
can create a hazard or cause environmental damage. The State of Florida has a statute in place that
establishes setbacks from marine infrastructure in which anchoring is not permitted. We propose
modeling the Georgia regulations on Florida’s statute, as follows:
(3) Public Notice. Anchorage areas shall be all of Georgia coastal waters except shellfish beds,
navigation channels, and within 150 feet of marine infrastructure including marinas, boat ramps,
boatyards, or other vessel launching or loading facilities.
(b) This subsection does not apply to:
1. A vessel owned or operated by a governmental entity.
2. A construction or dredging vessel on an active job site.
3. A commercial fishing vessel actively engaged in commercial fishing.
4. A vessel actively engaged in recreational fishing if the persons onboard are actively tending
hook and line fishing gear or nets.
5. A vessel suffering a mechanical failure that requires immediate securing of the vessel to
avoid grounding, drifting into area of greater hazard, and/or to allow the operator to attempt repairs or
wait for a tow.
6. Imminent or existing weather conditions in the vicinity of the vessel pose a risk of harm to the
vessel or the persons aboard.
Our coalition thanks you for the opportunity to share our comments as part of the proceeding.
On behalf of
America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association
Defever Cruisers Group
Marine Trawler Owners’ Association
Seven Seas Cruising Association