A bill filed earlier this week in the Florida Senate would prohibit anchoring within 200 feet of the shore line of developed waterfront property between one hour past sunset and one hour before sun rise, and Phil Johnson of the Seven Seas Cruising Association wants readers to register their opposition.
Johnson is a member of the group’s Concerned Cruisers Committee. Here’s what he said in a statement issued Wednesday:
Most who are familiar with the developments in recent years of the Florida anchoring drama know that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission solicited the public via meetings and a survey this year. Those recommendations can be found at www.MYFWC.COM/boating/anchoring and mooring.
As we come upon the 2015 Florida legislative session, boaters face what some believe will be an uphill battle between legislators who want to establish anchoring setbacks from residential property and pro-boating legislators who want to preserve anchoring options for those who cruise in the state. With Senator Deans filing on February 27, of SB1548, https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2015/1548, the legislative squall is now visible to the boating public and, as currently written, is not a friendly bill to boaters who anchor in Florida waters.
Florida Senate bill SB1548 is still in its early stages and a similar house bill has not yet been offered.
Contained within the bill are the following issues:
In the definition of “safe harbor” there is no consideration for crew incapacitation, time to obtain vessel entrance or clearance statements or time to cure these issues.
It prohibits anchoring within 200 feet of mooring fields, public ramps and other public launch facilities. SSCA believed 75 feet was more appropriate.
It prohibits anchoring within 200 feet of the shore line of developed waterfront property between one hour past sunset and one hour before sun rise. SSCA believes if setbacks are warranted they should be established, keeping the navigation rights of cruisers in mind. It does include prohibitions on anchoring derelict or near-derelict vessels. SSCA viewed this as a positive step in addressing derelict vessels.
It provides for noncriminal infractions, which include fines of $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, and $250 for a third and subsequent offense, and misdemeanors if one fails to respond to citations to appear in court.
SSCA had suggested that anchoring restrictions off private property should be addressed with the following wording: Prohibit the anchoring of vessels within 75 feet of docks and other maritime launching and dockage infrastructure attached thereto and properties with mixed waterfront residential and commercial properties.
Boaters need to prepare to speak up and address upcoming bills that may severely limit anchoring in Florida waters. If you are a registered voter in Florida, please let your representative and the Senate and House Committees know your concerns. If you anchor in Florida, please express your concern to the Florida legislature who will likely have the anchoring issue before them this month. The attached Trifold on Florida anchoring provides phone numbers and email addresses.