Earlier this month, the St. Petersburg city council approved a draft ordinance aiming to regulate neglegected and abandoned boats in Tampa Bay and nearby water.
Now, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is requesting public comment on proposed anchoring and mooring ordinances for St. Petersburg and Stuart/Martin County.
The public has through March 18 to voice its stance to the Conservation Commission by commenting on MyFWC.com/Boating.
Both areas were chosen as sites for a legislatively directed anchoring and mooring pilot program, as were the city of St. Augustine; Marathon and Key West partnering with Monroe County; and the city of Sarasota.
David Metz, Downtown Enterprise Facilities, told the council on March 1 that the city has worked closely with the Conservation Commission to develop the ordinance. He said the ordinance is a prevention tool.
"We wanted to give the (police) marine unit (an ordinance) to really be preemptive with derelicts and abandoned boats," Metz said told the council. "It's a balanced approach. Intercede before it becomes a problem."
According to the Conservation Commission, the goal of the program is to explore potential options for regulating the anchoring or mooring of non-live-aboard vessels outside the boundaries of public mooring fields. Among other things, the program should help promote public access to Florida’s waters, enhance navigational safety and protect the marine environment.
The city and/or county government for each participant site is responsible for soliciting public input for the ordinance-development process. These participants have held public-input meetings to gather suggestions and information on local problems related to anchoring and mooring in the area.
Proposed Anchoring Regulations
- No vessel shall anchor within 200 feet of any publicly or privately owned marina
- No vessel shall anchor within 200 feet of a publicly owned boat ramp
- No vessel shall anchor in Bayboro Harbor for more than 72 hours within a 30-day period.
- No vessel shall anchor in any area that would be a navigational hazard to other boaters
- No vessel shall anchor in the Port of St. Petersburg
- No vessel shall anchor in the Central Yacht Basin
- No vessel shall anchor in the South Yacht Basin
The city said the Conservation Commission could make minor changes but because the ordinance was developed with constant coordination with the agency the city does not expect many holdups. The final ordinance will be back before the council in early May with the Conservation Commission's changes.
The pilot program is scheduled to sunset July 1, 2014, at which time all local ordinances enacted will expire and will be inoperative and unenforceable, unless the Florida State Legislature reenacts the program.