More on Opposition to Mooring Pilot Program for Sunset Cove Anchorage, Keys Inside Route, Buttonwood Sound – Key Largo, FL
Sunset Cove is one of the most popular anchorages in the northern Florid Keys. This haven is located on the waters of southeastern Buttonwood Sound, in charted Sunset Cove, near statute Mile 1143 off the Florida Keys Inside Route.
The excellent report below, written by Florida Keys Keynoter reporter Kevin Wadlow appeared on KeysNet.com and is reprinted here with his permission. KeysNet website is http://www.keysnet.com and is a good source of local perspective on all things in the Keys.
Boaters Oppose State Pilot for Sunset Cove
A managed anchoring area proposed for Key Largo’s Sunset Cove fails to meet requirements for a state pilot program, says a staff report to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Monroe County’s draft ordinance to create several new managed anchoring zones reaches the FWC board at its Sept. 5 meeting in Tampa.
FWC Division of Law Enforcement staff who reviewed the county plan endorsed it, “contingent upon the Sunset Cove Managed Anchorage Zone provision being removed.”
A pilot program for five Florida coastal areas was enacted in 2009 to “explore potential options for regulating the anchoring or mooring of non-liveaboard vessels outside the marked boundaries of public mooring fields.”
Sunset Cove lies about 50 miles from the nearest existing mooring field, FWC staff said.
“Staff understands the Sunset Cove provision was originally added to the ordinance due to the amount of public comment received from residents” in a June 2011 meeting,” the report says. “Unfortunately, Sunset Cove is 45 to 50 miles from the Marathon mooring field… These were the mooring fields identified as part of Monroe County’s original application package for the pilot program.”
“There is also strong opposition from the boater groups on this provision,” the report says.
The FWC board members must approve local ordinances created under the pilot program. The board can amend or overrule its staff recommendation.
Monroe County officials only recently received the FWC staff report, said local Marine Resources Administrator Rich Jones.
The Keys ordinance also designates managed anchoring zones in the Lower Keys at Boca Chica Basin, Cow Key Channel and Key West Harbor; and in Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor and Sister Creek.
“Monroe County did something unique” by requiring proof of monthly sewage pumpouts for boats in the managed zones, FWC staff noted. A photo used in the state report to illustrate septic problems shows a toilet seat positioned over an open hole in a boat’s deck, with ocean water visible below.
Monroe County rules also would bar boats from the managed areas if they “exhibit pre-derelict vessel conditions” such as being unable to navigate, or appear to be in imminent danger of sinking. Of 39 comments received by the FWC on the Monroe County anchoring law, 18 were logged as “negative” with 12 being “positive.”