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post #31 of Old 03-21-2009
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Florida Open Water Society / Seven Seas Cruising Association Joint Position

Progress is taking shape largely due to boaters contacting Florida Representatives and Senators. Please continue to call and indicate your support for the FOWS / SSCA joint position for 5 mooring field test sites around the state.

Attached below is an update from the SSCA Concerned Cruisers Committee Chairman Wayne Marshall

Re: Urgent, your help needed now to limit anchoring restrictions

Postby soswayne on Fri Mar 20, 2009 7:20 pm
Report on Status of Florida Mooring Field Issue

Wayne Marshall, Chairman
SSCA Concerned Cruisers Committee

On Thursday, March 19, 2009, I attended a workshop with Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission employees and other concerned stakeholders. Representatives from Boat US, Nat’l Marine Manufacturers Association, Florida League of Cities, FL Dept of Environmental Protection, Florida Marine Industries Council and several others. Also in attendance was John Smith, VP of the Florida Open Water Society (FOWS). Several organizations were represented by their lobbyists.

The meeting was to deal with the House Bill # 1423 and the fact the author of the bill, Representative Troutman, recognized the need to clarify and quantify the proposed FWC Mooring Field test sites concept. Present and representing FWC were Lt Col Jim Brown, Lt Col Bruce Buckson, Mayor Paul Ouellette Captain Alan Richards, FWC Legal Counsel and Michael Yaun, FWC Deputy General Counsel.

The short version of the outcome is that we are now comfortable that this matter is proceeding in a manner consistent with the goals and objectives of the SSCA. We must remain vigilant to insure that House Bill # 1423 remains as clean and clear as it will be presented after modification by Rep Troutman. The companion Senate Bill # 2638 is somewhat identical. We have established an excellent basis for a positive and productive working relationship between the SSCA and FOWS. We also recognize the contribution that the FOWS representatives have brought to this fracas.

The FOWS and SSCA organizations are very similar in their perspectives and issues. We have a few minor differences in opinion, but largely agree on all fronts. It is important to realize that all that is on the table with this issue are the proposed Mooring Field test Sites and the implementation of the same. No other regulations or proposals are even on the table, as everything else has been tabled until after the test sites package has run its course. Still up for debate is whether the test sites will end in 2012 or 2014. Also important is that EACH SITE will be implemented independently, with ample opportunity for public comment public workshops and a site specific management plan. There are 7 criteria for the approval of a site and the final approval will rest with the FWC Council.

Also contained within the proposed regulation is language specifically informing cities and municipal governments that they do not have the right to create their own local ordinances affecting anchoring or mooring fields. Further, any such ordinances must be presented to the FWC for public comment and input before the ordinance can be approved. This does not relate to such routine matters as signage to control speed in fuel dock areas or in the proximity of bridges etc. There are sufficient ordnances on the books to provide for those types of needs.
The US District Court ruling in the case of Stuart, Florida that determined that the city Manager, Council members and the individual police officers are each jointly and separately accountable if their actions violate existing Federal or State Law. This ruling has essentially served notice to the various local government entities that they do not have any right to enact their own local ordinances in a vacuum, and that they will be held accountable for their actions. FWC has pledged to enforce these requirements to keep a uniform set of regulations for visitors and residents of Florida.

The next steps are the development of amendments to clarify this House Bill so that Rep. Troutman can modify his bill to make it acceptable. A sub group of the workshop will meet on Monday, March 23rd to develop these recommendations for Rep. Troutman... The SSCA has allowed our role in these matters to be represented by VP Smith of the FOWS. He is already in Tallahassee for an extended timeframe, we are very comfortable that he understands and agrees with our position in the main, and I will be unable to attend the committee meetings on Monday and Tuesday next week...

In addition, there is some minor tweaking to be done to insure that the House and Senate Bills are essentially identical so that passage of the bills can proceed. These are more housekeeping items than anything else. However, we are recommending that all emails and phone calls simply go on record as supporting the FOWS/SSCA position in this matter. Do not stop contacting your Senators and Representatives, just clarify that we are comfortable with the position jointly shared between the SSCA and the Florida Open Water Society. Another sample letter will be posted to the SSCA website a little later today. And, in addition, we will also post the email addressees and phone numbers of the Senate contacts to add to the representatives list that have previously been posted.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if any further clarification is necessary.

Wayne Marshall, Chairman
SSCA Concerned Cruisers Committee


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