An amendment to the state legislation to extend the FWC Anchoring/Mooring Pilot Program (Florida Senate bill SB 1126) is being considered by the Appropriations Committee THIS MORNING – the amendment would allow municipalities to regulate overnight anchoring by prohibiting anchoring of vessels within an unspecified distance from private residences! The amendment text:
"Notwithstanding paragraph (b), a municipality located within a charter county that has a population of at least 1.748 million may regulate overnight anchoring if the regulation is limited to the distance a vessel may be anchored from a private residence. This paragraph expires on October 31, 2017." (Paragraph (b) states: However, local governmental authorities are prohibited from regulating the anchoring outside of such mooring fields of vessels other than live-aboard vessels as defined in s. 327.02).
An urgent note from the Association Director of the Seven Seas Cruising Association about the surprise amendment:
Florida Senator Gwen Margolis, in the Florida Senate appropriations committee forum, is seeking an amendment to Florida Senate bill SB 1126 which will undermine all the good work the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has performed to date with regard to Florida's Anchoring and Mooring pilot program (Florida Statute 327.4105).
For the past 4+ years, FWC has met with local Florida Municipalities, Florida County governments, Property owners, Marinas, boat owners, the Navy, the Coast Guard, EPA, and Boating groups and Associations like SSCA. There has been a lot of give and take among all concerned and a lot of work by the 4 or 5 Municipalities who ultimately went forward with pilot programs. The pilot program temporally ended the wild west of anchoring in Florida, and the variety of pilot programs is giving FWC and others experience on how to best manage this resource.
Because there was so little data collected from the pilot program to date, the FWC and others have not had sufficient time to develop a lasting Florida Statute to codify lessons learned from the pilot program, it was agreed by many, if not all who attended the public forums, that the best near term action would be to extend the pilot program for another three years. Florida Senate Bill SB1126 was the legislative tool to such an extension.
Florida Senator Gwen Margolis is now seeking to undermine the current and proposed statute by allowing municipalities to regulate overnight anchoring and to prohibit anchoring of vessels within some unspecified distance from private residences ( Sunset Beach should come to mind....) Your SSCA CCC Chair attended all of the public meetings associated with the implementation of this pilot program and never heard one proposal, recommendation or complaint from any of her constituent Marinas, Municipalities, or property owners.
While we can all argue for more freedoms in navigation, including anchoring, the CCC believes the current compromise recognizes most of the needs of all those involved, and the extension associated with SB 1126 is viewed positively in the efforts to establish a long term legislative solution.
SB1126 as Amended is up before the Appropriations Committee tomorrow. The SSCA Concerned Cruisers’ Committee and your Board suggest that you please write to your FL senator as well as Senator Gwen Margolis and her Legislative Aide Zorida Druckman. Their email addresses are:
If you are a resident of Sen. Margolis’ district a phone call might help also. 327.4105 as extended by SB1126 isn’t perfect, but it’s MUCH better than nothing and the proposed amendment limits its effectiveness by permitting local officials to again harass visiting cruisers.