After years of attempting to enforce city anchoring regulations in Marco area waters, city officials may engage in new anchoring regulations.
The City of Marco Island just brought their case against Island boater Dave Dumas to a close this summer when state regulators made it clear that communities could not regulate anchoring outside of mooring fields without violating the state constitution.
Now, City Manager Steve Thompson is testing the waters to see if Marco has any interest in working with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to review the matter in more detail.
Thompson reported in his Weekly Update Monday evening that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is launching an Anchoring and Mooring Pilot Program.
“This has been an issue in the past, and if City Council is interested in establishing regulations under the pilot program for mooring outside of an established mooring field, the staff will provide a letter of interest,” Thompson reported.
FWC is exploring options for regulating the anchoring or mooring of non-live aboard vessels outside of legally permitted mooring fields-- the precise issue that brought the city into a two-year court battle with Dumas and boaters' rights organizations throughout the state and country.
Coastal communities are being sought to participate in the program, which is to develop regulatory options that promote public access, enhance navigation safety, protect the environment, and deter improperly stored, abandoned, or derelict vessels.
The FWC will select two locations on the east coast, two locations on the west coast, and one location in Monroe County for participation in the pilot program.
Although it appears that the pilot program may provide an opportunity to participate in the development of rules for regulating the 'anchoring of non-live aboard boats outside of mooring fields,' something that the city attempted to accomplish through its anchoring ordinance that was subsequently challenged and overturned, one of the stated legislative goals of the program is to 'encourage the establishment of additional public mooring fields,' Thompson reported.
A subcommittee of the city’s Waterways Committee examined the feasibility of establishing a mooring field in the City of Marco
Island a few years ago. The committee subsequently recommended against it for several reasons, including lack of local demand or support, the high cost of maintaining buoys, and other costs associated with providing sewage pumpout service, police patrol and enforcement, and liability insurance, Thompson said.
Participation in the FWC Pilot program would require a commitment to work with FWC to accomplish the goals of the program, ongoing collection and monitoring of data, submission of monthly reports to FWC and coordination of the review of any proposed ordinance with FWC and all interested stakeholders including the Coast Guard.
If the city is interested in participation in the FWC Pilot Program, a letter of interest will need to be submitted by Friday.