Latest on Florida Keys Anchoring As of 12/1/11
The report below from our very special Florida Keys correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, sounds very hopeful. This is an important issue as all of the Florida Keys have been selected to be included in the Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program. Sites selected for inclusion in this program have the power to regulate anchorage outside of mooring fields, but only after gaining input and approval from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC).
The Cruisers’ Net, BARR (Boaters’ Anchoring Rights & Responsibilities) and Boat/US are working hard to insure SENSIBLE anchorage regulations are adopted by all participants in the Pilot Mooring Field Program.
Last night’s meeting of the MPAC held here in Marathon, went exactly as planned. Prior to the meeting, I spoke with Senior Administrator Rich Jones via telephone and informed him though I would not be there personally, I had sent him a letter. He said he would read the letter at the meeting. Mariner’s Barr and SSECN both are very happy with how Monroe County has handled the responsibility of meeting the objectives of the Pilot Program. All with a carefully thought out plan so as not to displace or burden those in the cruising or local liveaboard communities. There are very caring people here, that is wholly apparent.
We’re still quite a ways before the actual ordinance is written and approved by the BOCC, but we’re getting there. The areas discussed last night are Boca Chica and Sunset Cove, where longterm liveaboards have a community. The ordinance will NOT affect cruisers and transient boaters in those areas. This was a way to keep from displacing those who live there. It’s not really in the realm of the Pilot Program, per se, as there is no mooring field associated with either area. However, Monroe County could do it under protection of the marine sanctuary…so it’s all good. We’ve worked very hard here in Monroe County to protect all boaters and cruisers from over-regulation. No time limits and a way for those who live aboard and do not navigate to still feel welcome…but making them own up to responsibility. I applaud the efforts made to accommodate and represent ALL boaters who enjoy the waters of the Keys. – On another note, the vendors in KW Harbor can have their floating structures as long as they are licensed otherwise to do business. That’s a huge thing for those whose livelihood depends on such.
Key West Harbor was never in the loop of the regulations that were outlined for Boca Chica Basin and Sunset Cove, Michael. It’s easy to get them confused. KW Harbor was only to have a buffer area around their mooring field, of which no one has any complaint. Most anchor on the other side of Fleming Key or off Wisteria. With Wisteria out of the picture, things look very good to stay the same in Key West Harbor.
The “approval” is only for language to be drafted into an ordinance to be presented to the BOCC in January; now that everyone is on the same page with what the ordinances should state. The BOCC will then take a look at it with the Public’s input, and it could still need tweaking. Once it is approved by the BOCC it will then be submitted to the FWC. Still a long way to go before there are ordinances of any kind in place. No surprises here of any kind, this has been the path Monroe County has taken from day one. A good one: LESS IS MORE.
Charmaine Smith Ladd (SSECN Special Correspondent & Representative)
Executive Director, Mariner’s Barr (Boaters’ Anchoring Rights & Responsibilities)