Manatee Pocket a Victory

Anchoring in Manatee Pocket will be limited to two distinct "pods," according to the adopted new language passed by the Martin County Board of Commissioners at their meeting Nov. 22. The motion, referring to the ordinance that was approved on Nov. 8., passed 4-1. The other areas the ordinance designates as part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Anchoring & Mooring Pilot Program - Jensen Beach, Stuart and Rio - will prohibit anchoring within 300' of "marine infrastructure," which includes docks, seawalls and mooring fields.  No public comments were made on the subject.
"When we implemented the 300' buffer...what it effectively did was eliminate any anchoring or mooring in Manatee Pocket," according to Martin County Coastal Engineer Kathy Fitzpatrick. "What we have proposed to you today is to scale back the 300' buffer, and instead have a 50' buffer."
Fitzpatrick illustrated the new buffer area (light green) with the map below, and pointed to the two areas where most boats anchor (the two triangles)."

Manatee Pocket Map
Commissioner Sarah Heard of District 4 asked, "Is there a way that we can prohibit anchoring in any area other than the two "pods" on the map?"  Fitzpatrick responded, "There's nothing directing us one way or another, Except that we have received a lot of emails from people who were upset that we were eliminating any anchoring in Manatee Pocket."
"How do we keep boats from anchoring in the unregulated areas?" asked Heard, and the discussion led to a new proposal.
Fitzpatrick: "What I'm hearing right now is that we're looking at all of Manatee Pocket as a Pilot Project Area that would be subject to regulation by the ordinance, and that ordinance would effectively buffer, or say that anything outside of these two areas (the triangular areas on the map) would not be available for anchoring or mooring, so within Manatee Pocket we can control [anchoring and mooring] however you all wish."
They defined the extent of Manatee Pocket as from Sandsprit Park in the north, and to include the creeks to the south down to Cove Road and Route AIA. Care was made to exclude the spot "a certain hot dog vendor" anchors on weekends at the end of Gull Lane, and not to preclude the ability for a homeowner to get a permit for a mooring ball near the shore of their own property.
The ordinance is to be transmitted to FWC for approval.
- Mike Ahart, Waterway Guide

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