Florida bill addresses derelict vessels

BoatUS is applauding HB 7043, which passed Friday.
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A Florida bill resulting from an eight-year pilot program, which allows public access but helps address the state’s derelict vessel issue, was recently passed.

When the pilot program was enacted in 2009, a patchwork of local anchoring regulations sometimes made stopping difficult, prompting complaints from boaters.

Some boaters reported fearing a visit from law enforcement advising that they had “overstayed” their visit and needed to move on.

Earlier bills would’ve prohibited anchoring from one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise in certain areas.

BoatUS is applauding HB 7043, which passed Friday.

Conducted by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and five local governments including the City of St. Augustine, City of Stuart/Martin County, City of St. Petersburg, City of Sarasota and Monroe County/Marathon/Key West, the pilot tested a variety of methods of regulated anchoring, while still protecting the anchoring rights of the active cruising public.

It also sought to reduce the growing population of derelict vessels in the state.

The bill provides anchoring regulations in and around mooring fields and waterway infrastructure.

It also broadens the definition of a derelict vessel — for boats in use, it adds new penalties for those whose vessel registration is expired beyond six months; it also makes it illegal to affix a vessel to an unpermitted, unauthorized or otherwise “unlawful object,” affixed to the bottom of the waters of the state. This could include an unpermitted mooring or an old engine block.

Finally, it gives local governments the option to require proof of pumpout after vessels have been anchored for 10 days or longer in federally managed no-discharge-zones —portions of the Florida Keys and waters off Destin.