BoatUS is urging Florida Gov. Rick Scott to veto a measure that bans overnight anchoring in three wealthy waterfront communities in South Florida.
In a letter to Scott, BoatUS president Margaret Bonds Podlich argues it is a mistake to let “a select few” create special anchoring restrictions unique to those areas.
“BoatUS believes that creating special carve outs directly counters the years of effort that have gone into developing rational statewide anchoring regulations,” she wrote in the letter to Scott, a Republican.
“For many boat owners one of the joys of boating is to travel to new places, drop anchor, dock or pick up a mooring and then spend time and money exploring the local community. Prior to 2009, boats cruising Florida faced a hodge-podge of inconsistent local anchoring rules that made boaters feel very unwelcome in some of the state’s waters,” the letter continued.
The proposal, approved by the Repubican-controlled state Legislature this month, would bar vessels from from anchoring in certain parts in the Middle River in Broward County, Sunset Lake in Miami-Dade County and around much of the Venetian Causeway in Biscayne Bay. The restrictions would take effect shortly after sunset and end just before sunrise.
Florida's Legislature passed a law in 2009 creating a Pilot Program allowing Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Monroe County (which includes the Florida Keys), Martin County and St. Augustine created local mooring regulations through an open, public process. BoatUS said this program was intended to promote public access and the use of mooring fields, enhance navigational safety, protect the environment and deter improper storage of vessels, among other goals.
A report on the Pilot Program’s effects is due out in the coming months, and BoatUS argued the state should not enact new mooring restrictions until those findings are released.
“We remain firmly convinced the Pilot Program can provide some elements that local governments might use to manage their waterways while still allowing a full range of mooring and anchoring options for active cruising boaters. Local governments throughout the state have patiently waited for a balanced approach, one that will emerge in 2017 from the Pilot Program results,” Podlich said in the letter to Scott.
“Enactment of House Bill 1051 – with its provisions of special exceptions when it comes to overnight anchoring in three very specific areas of the state – is directly counter to all the time, effort and financial resources that have gone into creating anchoring rules that are fair to everyone,” she continued.
Gov. Scott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the BoatUS letter.