How Can I Stop This?

First of all, get involved. Contact Boat US, the FWC and your state representative about what is going on and express your outrage.   Below is a draft letter that you can copy and paste, or copy and alter, to express your opinion, and then email to Boat US, the national boating organization representing boaters' interests.
Tell your boating friends about what is going on, and invite them to check out this website for themselves.


I wish to express my concern regarding the Anchoring and Mooring Pilot Program enacted by the Florida Legislature at the request of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), in that it is not being correctly implemented.  More specifically, it appears to be an attempt to permit municipalities to restrict anchoring in ways that are harmful to, and dangerous for, boaters. Furthermore, its enactment appears not to be in concordance with what was initially proposed, as per the following examples.

The Legislature specified that one site was to be within Monroe County. The FWC ultimately has selected Monroe County itself as that site. They then selected Stuart and now all of Martin County has partnered with that site. This is an obvious and deliberate misinterpretation of the Legislative directive and extends the authority of these ordinances far beyond the initially proposed areas.
The Pilot Program states:  “Each location selected for inclusion in the pilot program must be associated with a properly permitted mooring field”. Since Monroe County in its entirety has been selected as a site, the FWC has interpreted this directive to mean Monroe County can develop ordinances that affect waters anywhere within the county. Again, this is not what was anticipated by those of us affected by these regulations.
The result of this interpretation is that Monroe County is now drafting ordinances that will affect Boca Chica Basin near Stock Island (17 miles from the Key West mooring field), and Sunset Cove near Key Largo (50 miles from the Boot Key Harbor mooring field).  FWC Captain Tom Shipp, who is overseeing the Pilot Program, has assured participants that they can move ahead in this direction.

Program sites are drafting ordinances that will severely limit anchoring options for cruisers, far in excess of anything anticipated by boaters.
St. Augustine is drafting a 10 day anchoring limit which will be enforced even should there be no moorings available, plus restrictive buffer zones within the city limits.
St. Petersburg is putting in a mooring field that will eliminate any anchorage within the city’s only anchorage, the popular Vinoy Basin. The other anchoring area convenient to downtown St. Petersburg, the South Basin, has been leased to Harbourage Marina and is off limits to anchoring.
Sarasota is understood to be drafting an ordinance to include a no-anchoring buffer zone of up to 5 miles around their mooring field.
These types of ordinances seriously constrain boaters who may be forced to make unsafe decisions to comply with these ordinaces, such as continuing on when wisdom dictates that they stop, perhaps due to fatigue or weather. These are the very type of ordinances that Florida Statute 327.60(2) specifically prohibits and for which boaters throughout the State fought. Furthermore, they are not in accordance with the Pilot Programs directive of promoting water access - in fact, they restrict it. Some of them most certainly contradict federal legislation and will be challenged in court.

The implications of these ordinances are disturbing and herald a return to the anchoring ‘wars’ that preceded the implementation of 327.60. It appears that the FWC is using the Pilot Program to allow ordinances that far exceed what any reasonable person would interpret as the Legislative directive of the Pilot Program.
Ridding Florida’s waters of derelict and abandoned vessels as well as controlling sewage from irresponsible boaters are problems that can be managed by existing laws that preceded the Pilot Program (see FWC General Order 21, Derelict and At Risk Vessels). There is no requirement for new laws, particularly when the current ones are not being enforced. Were that the case, there would be no need for the Pilot Program.

The Pilot Program's purpose seems to be the circumvention of the very Florida Statute (327.60(2)) which protects a boat in navigation's right to anchor outside of mooring fields without coming under local ordinances. No boater would knowingly and willingly give up that right.

I request that Boat US to take immediate action to do whatever is necessary to get FWC to reverse its course.

Respectfully submitted

(your name, address, email or other contact information)