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Florida officials seek input on anchoring proposal

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hosting two workshops this week on proposals to change the state’s anchoring law and give some authority to counties and municipalities to regulate anchoring on their waters.

“We want public input so we can see whether there’s a consensus on what’s reasonable,” FWC waterways management supervisor Capt. Gary Klein told Trade Only Today.

The situations FWC is proposing for local anchorage regulation are “lessons learned that have been plugged in as potential ideas and options for local governments to use,” Klein said.

The FWC said it is considering legislation that would grant local governments authority to regulate anchoring “in limited, prescribed situations.” These could include prohibiting anchoring within 150 feet of mooring fields, boat ramps, marinas and other public launching or landing facilities and overnight within 300 feet of waterfront residential property or in a location that restricts the use of attached docks or boat lifts.

It also would prohibit storing a boat on Florida waters if the vessel is incapable of navigating under its own power; takes on water without the ability to dewater; has spaces designed to be enclosed that are open to the elements; is leaking contaminants; has broken loose or is in danger of doing so; violates sanitation laws; or is listing or aground.

The FWC also is proposing that if a local government needs to regulate anchoring in any way other than those listed, it would have to apply for FWC approval.

A boat would be exempt from local anchoring prohibitions if it requires safe harbor or is involved in an emergency; is a law enforcement, firefighting or rescue vessel owned or operated by a government entity; is manned continuously while anchored for four hours or less for recreational activities, such as fishing and swimming; or is involved in construction or dredging.

The workshops will be held from 5:30-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Indian River County Administrative Complex, Building A, 1801 27th St., Vero Beach, and from 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday at the Manatee County Commission Chambers, 1112 Manatee Ave. West, Bradenton.

Attendees can comment in person at the meeting — and will be asked to write down there comments there — or they can email comments after the meeting. Go to https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLFFWCC/subscriber/new to get updated information about when and where to send emailed comments.

In 2009 the legislature clarified the state anchoring law, changing the definition of liveaboard vessel to “any vessel used solely as a residence and not for navigation,” excluding cruising boats from the definition. Counties and municipalities, which until then had been prohibiting cruising boats from anchoring in their waters under their authority to regulate liveaboard boats, could not do that anymore, except in state-approved permitted mooring fields. The current proposals return some of that authority to regulate where cruising boats can anchor to counties and municipalities.

Klein said the proposed changes to the state law are an effort to “fine-tune” the state’s anchoring law and find common ground for both boaters and local governments.

Information is available at http://myfwc.com/boating/anchoring-mooring.

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