FWC approves ordinance for anchoring/mooring pilot program for St. Petersburg

Early in May in Crystal River, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved, with one contingency, the city of St. Petersburg’s proposed boating ordinance for the anchoring and mooring pilot program coordinated by the FWC.

Local governments for the five communities participating in the pilot program are responsible for soliciting public input and adopting local ordinances within their jurisdictions. These ordinances must be approved by the FWC and will continue to be evaluated by the FWC and the Legislature. Since June 2011, when the final participant was selected for the program, FWC staff has been attending the sites’ public-input meetings to provide information on the pilot program.

“The city of St. Petersburg’s ordinance addresses local issues related to anchoring and mooring in the area, such as navigational safety, protecting marine infrastructure, promoting public access and deterring improperly stored, abandoned or derelict vessels,” said Maj. Jack Daugherty, leader of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “It also specifies penalties for violating the regulations.”

The ordinance prohibits hazardous vessels from anchoring in city of St. Petersburg waterways and prohibits any vessel from anchoring in a manner that would cause a navigational hazard or interfere with other vessels. It also restricts any vessel from anchoring within 200 feet of any marina or any publicly owned boat ramp. Anchoring is also prohibited in the Port of St. Petersburg, Central Yacht Basin and South Yacht Basin.

Commissioners discussed, asked questions and heard public comment, ultimately approving the ordinance with the contingency suggested by staff that no vessel shall anchor in Bayboro Harbor for more than 10 days out of any 30-day period. With this approval, the city can make the required changes and adopt the ordinance to make it effective. All ordinances adopted under the pilot program expire on July 1, 2014, unless re-enacted by the Legislature.

Public meetings have also been held in the other four participant sites: Monroe County, in coordination with the cities of Marathon and Key West; Stuart, in coordination with Martin County; and the city of Sarasota. The ordinances for St. Augustine have already been approved, and the developing ordinances from the remaining areas will be presented at future Commission meetings.

The goal of the anchoring and mooring pilot program is to explore potential options for regulating the anchoring or mooring of non-live-aboard vessels outside the boundaries of public mooring fields. The FWC’s role is to provide consultation and technical assistance on the issues. For more information on the pilot program, visit MyFWC.com/Boating or call 850-488-5600.

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