The Florida State Legislature passed a bill May 4, 2019 that directs the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to conduct a study on the impacts to local communities of boats stored long-term on Florida waters outside of public mooring fields.
The bill defines long-term storage as a boat not being under the supervision or control of a person capable of operating, maintaining or moving it from one location to another and which has remained anchored or moored outside of a public mooring field for at least 30 days out of a 60-day period. It does not refer to liveaboards or transient boats.
The study will investigate and determine how long-term stored vessels contribute to the number of derelict or abandoned vessels on State waters. Long-term stored or unattended boats affect public safety, may become hazards to navigation, can impact the environment, and contribute to the cost of vessel cleanup, especially after a hurricane. The study can take up to two years and is subject to funding.
“Monroe County is the poster child for derelict vessels in Florida,” said Rich Jones, Monroe County’s Marine Resource Administrator. “We anticipate that the management options provided from the results of this study will lead to significant positive impacts for Florida Keys waters.”
The Monroe County-driven bill was drafted in part by Jones, who worked in coordination with FWC to determine the root cause of how derelict vessels are generated, and alternative ways to prevent that from happening. The bill was championed in Tallahassee by Monroe County Legislative Affairs Director Lisa Tennyson and the County’s lobbying team. Both Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Holly Raschein co-sponsored the bill in their respective chambers.
If the study finds that long-term stored vessels are a problem, the next step includes legislative recommendations, which may include time limits for how long such vessels can be anchored or moored on state waters outside of mooring fields.