The FWC survey simply got the answers it asked for, leaving little chance for an accurate reading of the stakeholders. It is quite likely that legislators will draft a bill that allows municipalities to prohibit anchoring within 150 feet of a residential property, which will set a precedent for even larger setbacks.
What we can do now is let the Florida legislators know what's wrong with this idea and hope the bills get voted down. If you're a Florida citizen, I urge you to get involved for the sake of all cruising boaters. Here's the SSCA press release - 2/12/2015:
The Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) has published its position on the new Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Anchoring Survey results. The FWC will propose legislative changes to anchoring rights. Some are positive, but some will prevent Florida boaters from anchoring, only to preserve the waterfront view of a very few landowners. Every Florida Boater needs to contact their elected representatives to preserve their Florida anchoring rights.
SSCA approves the following FWC proposal:
3. The storing of vessels on the water in deteriorating condition would be prohibited. (However, SSCA’s position is that Florida legislators must approve funding for the regulation and removal of these “derelict” boats).
However, SSCA does not approve of the following FWC anchoring rights proposals as reasonable concepts:2
2. A setback distance where anchoring of vessels overnight in close proximity to waterfront residential property would be prohibited.
5. If authority was granted to local governments to regulate anchoring in their jurisdiction, an allowance could be created for other anchoring regulations where need is demonstrated.
Florida anchoring rights are important to all boaters. Florida is a bellwether state for water rights, and if Florida restricts federal rights of boats to travel and anchor on public waters, just to preserve the view of a few landowners (residential setback), other states may follow. Also, proposal 5 (approval of local regulation) would create an impossible patchwork of differing regulations across the state, subject to the whims and enforcement of local cities and counties. This is what the current mooring field regulations were enacted to eliminate. But SSCA agrees with FWC’s proposal to define and remove derelict boats, if funding is also approved for this regulation and removal.
Seven Seas Cruising Association, Inc. is the oldest and largest non-profit organization of voyaging cruisers in the world. SSCA has nearly 8,000 members sharing the dream of sailing the seas as a lifestyle. The goals of the original founders are still the goals of SSCA today: sharing cruising information, camaraderie, and leaving a clean wake. For more information, go to www.ssca.org