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    • Anchoring Under Attack in Georgia? Plus Georgia Responds and More Comments

      Is anchoring in Georgia under attack as it is in Florida? Note carefully the proposed changes to terms for live-aboard, long term anchoring and the establishment of an anchoring permit. The first public hearing is June 17 in Brunswick. Written public comments may be submitted through July 15.
      See response below from Executive Director of Georgia Marine Business. See also Kim Russo on New Anchoring Restrictions and  Jim Healy Comments

      Public Notice: Notice of Rule Making for Coastal Marshland Protection and Boating Regulations

      CRD Latest News
      NOTICE OF PROPOSED REGULATION CHANGES

      TO:                  All Interested Persons and Parties

      FROM:             Doug Haymans​

      SUBJECT:        Notice of Rule Making for Coastal Marshland Protection and Boating Regulations

      Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to authority set forth below, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources proposes an amendment to the Rules of Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division, Chapter 391-2-3, Coastal Marshlands Protection Regulations and Wildlife Resources Division, Chapter 391-4-5, Boating Regulations.  This is a notice of proposed amendments to the rules to reflect the deliberations of the Coastal Committee of the Board of Natural Resources at its May 21, 2019 meeting.

      These amendments are being promulgated under the authority of Title 52, Section 52-7-8.4 of the Official Code of Georgia, Annotated.  In addition to the removal of the term ‘live-aboard’ and all associated rules from the Coastal Marshlands Protection Regulations, the proposed amendments would create rules for over-night and long-term anchoring in the estuarine area of the state and establish an anchorage permit.

      A public hearing on the proposed amendments will be held in Brunswick, Georgia on Monday, June 17, 2019, 5:30p.m. at the Coastal Regional Headquarters of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Written public comment will be received through Monday July 15, 2019. Comments should be legible, concise and limited to the proposed rule change. Following the comment period, the Board of Natural Resources will consider the proposed rule on August 27, 2019 at 9:00 AM at its Board Room located at 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, SE, Suite 1252, Atlanta, Georgia.

      Mail or email comments to: Kelly Hill, Coastal Resources Division, One Conservation Way, Brunswick, GA 31520. Kelly.Hill@dnr.ga.gov

      Additional information is available at www.CoastalGaDNR.org. Click on the “News and Notices” tab or click this link: https://coastalgadnr.org/notice-rule-making-coastal-marshland-protection-and-boating-regulations

       
       
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      Comments from Cruisers (6)

      1. Charles Waller -  June 4, 2019 - 8:01 pm

        I am the owner of Isle of Hope Marina and the president of The Georgia Marine Business Association ("GAMBA") – so take aim now! We are seeing a firestorm of comments on these proposed regulations from our cruising customers, key leaders and leading organizations in the boating community, and from our long-time friends at Cruisers Net. And as facetious as this may sound based on the comments below, that is good as our community is clearly engaged on this important issue as it should be. As Americans, and more so as boaters, we cherish our personal freedom and rise up quickly when we believe it is threatened. As humans, we fear the unknown and quite naturally assume the worst when given incomplete or inaccurate information on a controversial issue, as is evidenced by many of the comments here and on other sites. In order to take two small steps toward some clarity, here are two specific suggestions on the proposed rules:
        1) Anchorage Rules: This rule needs to encourage and support safe anchoring, not inhibit it. The setback from structures must be practical. The DNR should move quickly on this issue to quiet fears.
        2) Anchorage Permits If these rules are too onerous, particularly for short-term stays, I do agree that this will drive boaters away from Georgia's waters. We also need to ensure that a law-abiding boater's privacy is protected as these rules are developed. * Apologies to Susan Parker as these comments mirror her excellent and succinct comments below

        These are my personal comments. GAMBA is comprised of most of the major marinas on the coast of Georgia, as well as many of Georgia's leading marine businesses. GAMBA, as an organization, will submit detailed comments in the near future. Contrary to comments posted by others, GAMBA has taken no specific position on these proposed regulations at this time. Coming soon….

        Reply to Charles
      2. James Newsome -  June 3, 2019 - 6:11 am

        Reply to Bob Keller and my thoughts on the anchoring debate in Georgia,

        You wrote, “As a 30+ year resident of Georgia this law is the most outrageous I have seen. This is a classic case of legislators voting on bills proposed that they have no idea about and no knowledge of what they are doing. Just trying to cast their vote so they can go on summer break and don't have a clue what they are voting about. Disgusting really. Would like to know who sponsored and introduced this bill? Then who voted on it. They had no lobbying pushback so they voted Yea on a bill they had no clue about. Sickening. This is an embarrassment to the residents and voters of Georgia. Georgia is an afterthought on the east coast ICW and this nonsense will ensure that GA is nonexistent.”

        A Senator and Representative from St. Simon’s Island and Brunswick sponsored the bill. And apparently the only lobbying group was the GA Marine Business Association or GAMBA. It’s interesting that (apparently) none of the normal waterway associations or groups knew about this legislation in last month. This includes Brad Pickel with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association, Waterway Guide, or Cruisers Net. To say that this bill flew under the radar is an understatement, and I don’t think this was by accident.

        The bill pretends to address concerns about liveaboards, anchoring, and possibly derelict vessels, but I believe these are simply a ruse for the real purpose. What we need to know is the nexus for this law. We know that the Georgia DNR Coastal Resource Division and GAMBA were involved, but whose interests were being represented?

        Let’s look at the public record so far from Doug Haymans of the Coastal Resource Division of DNR. In addition to removing the term “liveaboard” from all rules “the proposed amendments would create rules for over-night and long-term anchoring in the estuarine area of the state and establish an anchorage permit.” Hayman goes on to state that current law “doesn’t allow a live-aboard outside of an eligible marina.”

        So now with the already passes amendments to HB201, DNR states that the main purpose is to establish rules for “for overnight or long-term anchoring in the estuarine areas of the state” by creating a new boating regulation.

        Fortunately, GA law requires assessment of the economic impact on small businesses as part of any rule change. Here’s what Hayman has presented. “All the businesses possibly affected by this rule employ less than 100 persons. There are no additional costs to businesses, such as marinas, and if anything, these rules may direct additional customers to eligible facilities. For many years, Georgia has been viewed by transient boaters as unfriendly to their activities. The proposed amended rules should have the added benefit of opening Georgia estuarine waters to more transient boaters and therefore more business for coastal marinas.”

        I think the phrase “these rules may direct additional customers to eligible facilities” is the real purpose of this amendment to HB201, and also why GAMBA is so involved. Does anyone with any sense really think that creating a permitting process, telling boaters where they can and cannot anchor, and charging boaters for anchoring is going to add benefit of opening Georgia waters to more transient boaters? At least we now understand how this is going to direct customers to eligible facilities (commercial marinas).
        There is nothing about this change to HB201 that is friendly to Georgia boaters or transient boaters. It is heavy handed overreach of government and a thinly veiled effort to drive transient boaters to commercial marinas.
        I have defended and advocated for cruisers to not bypass Georgia on their semiannual migrations. I’ve written many articles about Georgia’s wonderful cruising destinations and debated on social media platforms against folks who blatantly said to skip Georgia when asked for cruising advice. But I cannot defend this action by our state’s DNR and I am embarrassed that this has happened to us.

        In the coming days and weeks, I think we will learn more about the changes to this law and I think the hand will be pointed to a few folks who are greedily trying to use their influential positions to line their pockets. I hope I’m wrong, I really do.

        Reply to James
      3. Roger Long -  May 31, 2019 - 2:10 pm

        Hmmm. I think Ms. Thruman better have a talk with the drafters of the proposed regulations. Maybe I’m getting flakey with age but I spent a large portion of my career helping clients interpret and comply with USCG regulations and even helped write some of them. Nothing from that experience would support my interpreting the draft rules that anchoring in places not specifically identified as state approved anchorages will be permitted. Hopefully, this is a tempest in a teapot resulting from careless writing but we must follow the development of the actual wording very carefully. I do not find happy talk from someone whose job it is to promote GA business and who does not appear to be part of the rule making process very reassuring at this point. The final rules must be clear. If there is any ambiguity, there will be problems for cruisers from law enforcement officers who miss-interpret the regulations as has happened often in Florida.
        Roger Long

        Reply to Roger
      4. Wally Moran -  May 31, 2019 - 1:59 pm

        Dear Ms. Thurman – The best legislation is the least legislation. These new rules, like all legislation, start out fresh and clean and with great hopes for the future, but I have no doubt that it will not continue that way. There are simply too many ways to twist something like this into something it was never meant to be, otherwise known as ‘the law of unintended consequences’.
        For example – determining a distance from bridge structures, docks, etc. Someone with an agenda, as we have seen happen in Florida, could draw the line in such a way as to make anchoring safely – and legally – impossible, by choosing a distance that renders a particular anchorage unusable.
        Furthermore, I believe that it was determined that anchoring setoffs violated federal laws. That would also be the case in Georgia were it to take this route.
        Georgia proposes a fee to ‘prevent’ abandoned vessels, but provides no details of the size of the problem here – nor do you other than a toss off of ‘half a dozen’ – or on how this happy event will come to pass. Furthermore, we have no information as to just how serious this issue is, because – no details.
        If there are only a half dozen boats as per your guesstimate – or even a couple of dozen – then this legislation is overkill. How about you – since you seem to have some insight into what’s behind this bill – provide readers with the details? That way, we can make informed comments, rather than speculate blindly about what is actually going on here.
        Finally – in determining the acceptable anchorages – who will choose? Will there be someone like myself available with extensive knowledge of the various anchorages along the coast, or will some faceless bureaucrat with a handful of darts tossed at a chart of the coastline make the decisions?
        We – the cruising community – need a LOT more information here than we’ve received up to now. At this point, I’m about as trusting of what this legislation is about as I was this morning of the shark that was eyeing the fish on the end of my spear. That shark might go for the fish – but it might also get me. In both cases, the solution was to get out of the water.
        Here in the Abacos, that meant getting into my dinghy. In Georgia, it will mean that cruisers just go offshore and avoid Georgia entirely.
        I don’t think that’s what you want, is it? But it’s what you are going to get if the comments I’m seeing online are any indication.
        Wally Moran

        Reply to Wally
      5. Susan Parker -  May 31, 2019 - 2:05 pm

        I ask two things:

        1) Restricted areas and rules be clearly communicated.

        2) Anchoring permits be easily accessible/available on line.

        Reply to Susan
      6. Amy Thurman -  May 31, 2019 - 9:57 am

        I'd like to clarify a few things about new laws in Georgia. I'm the executive director of the Georgia Marine Business Association (GAMBA), and the publisher of Southern Tides Magazine. I was also previously an executive director of an international cruising association.

        This bill, which I strongly support, is NOT an attack on cruisers or on anchoring in Georgia.

        Most liveaboard boaters/cruisers/transient boaters follow the principle of leaving no wake – meaning leaving no trace of their presence when visiting or transiting through an area. No trash, no waste, the smallest/least footprint possible. If you've been through Georgia's coastal waters, you're aware that what we have here is some of the last remaining undeveloped and unspoiled marshes, wetlands, barrier islands, and inland waterways on the eastern seaboard. This bill is an attempt to keep it that way by designating anchorage areas and restricting sewage pumpout in our state waters.
        Some things to be aware of:
        – Anchoring will still be permitted in most Georgia waters. Areas that will be restricted are shellfish beds (which are critical to our coastal ecosystem), and within a specified distance (still being decided) of structures, to include bridges, existing docks, and in navigation channels. This distance is for the safety of everyone involved and is not aimed so much at cruisers as at local boats that anchor in high traffic areas creating a hazard to navigation, and boats anchoring a couple hundred feet (or less) from a marina or other dock and causing dangerous situations for boats approaching and departing those docks.
        – There will be a small permit fee, similar to what you'd pay to camp at a state or national park. The purpose of this fee is to prevent boats from being anchored in our coastal waters and abandoned, which happens far more frequently than you might imagine – I can think of half a dozen off the top of my head. It allows these abandoned boats to be dealt with (there currently isn't a way of dealing with them). The other purpose of the fee was to fund the removal of these abandoned vessels, but it was struck down on the floor of the House, even though we fought hard for it. And we'll continue to push for those fees to go directly into an abandoned vessel fund in the next congressional session.
        – This law will be enforced by reporting – meaning law enforcement isn't going to ride around looking for permits, inspecting your Y valve, etc. But it does allow reports of pumping sewage overboard, protection of our shellfish beds, vessels anchored in dangerous locations, and abandoned vessels (NONE of which we want) to be dealt with.

        You are all still heartily welcome in Georgia waters! We rely on your patronage and have no wish to push you away. You are still welcome to anchor in our countless truly lovely areas or stay in any marina of your choosing, and there are pump-out stations (that only charge nominal fees) located throughout our coast. Please also note that this law will not go into effect until January 1, 2020, and before it does, the wording will be clarified and posted (as well as shared with Cruiser's Net , Active Captain and Waterway Guide).

        I welcome any questions, and of course you're welcome to participate in the public comment to the GADNR.

        Sincerely,
        Amy Thurman
        Georgia Marine Business Association
        Southern Tides Magazine
        Georgia Resident
        amy@southerntidesmagazine.com

        Reply to Amy
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