Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 08:14PM - Comments: (9)
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is conducting a two-week survey to collect public comment on its anchoring and mooring pilot programs in five municipalities: City of St. Augustine, City of Stuart/Martin County, City of St. Petersburg, City of Sarasota, and Monroe County/Marathon/Key West. As it stands, these pilot ordinances—which regulate anchoring and mooring of non-liveaboard boats—will expire on July 1, 2014, unless the Florida Legislature extends the program. Copies of the anchoring ordinances in the pilot communities can be found here.
I cannot comment on how the pilot programs in other areas are going, but in our home city of Sarasota, the ordinance has been poorly executed—to say the least. It effectively usurped public submerged lands and put them in the hands of a private enterprise that has been profiting for decades on corporate welfare. It cost local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, endangered boaters, drove middle-class sailors away from the sport, and compounded the environmental problems associated with anchoring in sensitive seagrass areas. The details of this fiasco are too comic and convoluted to go into here. But suffice it to say, the pilot mooring field experiment in Sarasota has been, in the words of my 9-year-old son, an “epic fail.”
I am all for providing well-planned mooring services at a reasonable price where the need exists, but to force people to use marginal mooring installations for the benefit of a few powerful and connected waterfront-business owners is not in the best interest of any community. The lack of public notice and short duration of this survey is typical of how this pilot program has been executed.
I urge anyone who sails in Florida and is impacted by these pilot programs to take a few minutes to respond to the FWC's survey.