ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 26, 2011 -- The 2009 passage of Florida House Bill 1423 meant that boaters across the Sunshine State no longer had to fear a visit from law enforcement advising that their boat had "overstayed" its visit and needed to move on. This law, strongly supported by a coalition of boating interests including BoatUS, was designed to study where mooring fields should be created and how to provide for anchoring outside of those mooring fields. To help boaters understand their rights under this law, BoatUS has updated its "Florida Anchoring Information Sheet," available at no cost at www.BoatUS.com/gov/florida.
On July 1, 2011 the five locations with already-permitted mooring fields will begin the second phase of the pilot program. During this phase, ordinances providing for anchoring outside the permitted mooring fields will be developed and boaters will be asked to take part in crafting these anchoring ordinances.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has already chosen four of the five locations for the pilot project. They are: Monroe County, which has mooring fields in Key West and Marathon; the City of St. Petersburg; the City of Sarasota and the City of St. Augustine. During the Commission's June meeting either the City of Miami/Dinner Key or the City of Stuart will be selected as the fifth participant.
Local governments, with the exception of the five test locations, still cannot restrict anchoring outside a mooring field. This prohibition against restricting anchoring will be in effect until at least 2014.
"Our updated Anchoring Information Sheet is a summary of the current provisions of the law taking effect and gives everyone a good understanding what's going on today," said BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich.
Public Meetings to Come
In addition, BoatUS advises that boater involvement will be critical as each of the five pilot areas seeks to define their mooring fields and any subsequent anchoring restrictions. "The state law was written so that proposed anchoring ordinances must be approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and vetted with significant boater input. We will need boaters to speak up at these meetings as it will be the only opportunity to influence how and where local anchoring regulations are structured," added Podlich.
The five local governments who regulate the mooring fields are expected to hold meetings as early as this summer. BoatUS will be alerting its Florida members via email as these meetings are scheduled. To sign for membership, go to www.BoatUS.com/membership, and make sure to provide an email address.