Florida Law Confuses Anchoring Policy
Edited by Ann Dermody
Despite the best efforts of BoatU.S., Florida boating-industryadvocates, andthousands of individual boaters, in March Florida governor Rick Scott signed legislation that adds confusion, instead of clarity,
to anchoring policy. The law, which goes into effect
July 1, bans overnight anchoring in three specific areas of
Broward and Miami-Dade counties, contrary to a seven-year
effort by BoatU.S., the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC), industry associations, and boating groups
to develop a consistent statewide anchoring policy.
“Creating special carve-outs that ban anchoring outright
runs directly counter to all the effort invested in developing
rational anchoring regulations,” reports BoatU.S. Government
Affairs Manager David Kennedy.
Before 2009, boaters cruising in Florida faced a jumble of
local regulations that made it difficult to know where and for
how long they could drop the hook. That year, BoatU.S. and
other boating groups successfully lobbied the legislature to limit
local government authority to regulate anchoring outside of
designated mooring fields. While that settled the issue on many
Florida waterways, a few local jurisdictions continued to object.
In the 2014 legislative session, and again last year, several
South Florida counties lobbied – unsuccessfully, Kennedy
points out — to change the 2009 law so that they could regulate
local anchoring. In the 2016 legislative session, the proponents
narrowed their focus and convinced state lawmakers to ban
overnight anchoring in the three areas.
A pilot program created by the 2009 legislation does give
five local jurisdictions authority to regulate anchoring, but only
after consultation with stakeholders and approval by the Florida
FWC, and only where mooring-field, temporary-anchorage,
and marina-slip options are available. A full report on the pilot
program is due this fall.
“While the new law could be seen as a setback,” says Kennedy,
“the good news is that we convinced the legislature to nullify it
once the State of Florida enacts a consistent anchoring policy.”
“BoatU.S. is committed to ensuring that active, responsible
boaters have the mooring and anchoring options they need
when cruising the Sunshine State’s waters.”
— RYCK LYDECKER