A friend who worked with the Florida
DNR said this program started over 15 years ago. I worked for the FWC in fisheries research
, and have attended the law enforcement meetings.
The State of Florida
wrote model legislation for cities and towns to enact over 15 years ago. Florida looks at 4 catagories of boats.
1. Transient vessels. These are OK in their view, and money
can be made off them. But the condo owners want no boats in view, and liveaboards are easy scapegoats for pollution.
2 Stationary liveaboards. These are permitted, but the state wants to regulate them. In fact some liveaboards. like the "dirt baggers" in the Keys, use the water
for a combination trash can and sewer, and they have high visibility . But cruisers pausing to build up the kitty, are not usually in this class. Local liveaboards appear, to me, to be a mixed bag. The state will tolerate these if no problems, real or political arise.
3. Unoccupied, unattended, anchored vessels. These cause no immediate problems, but the state sees them as as becoming problem vessels. In hurricanes or other problem times they go down. The state wants to remove this class. Removal
is cheaper while they are still floating.
4. Sunken derelicts. The state pays tens of thousands to have one of these removed, but has trouble getting funds. Funds usually come as one shot grants. My city even has them in marinas
, and we all see them scattered around the coast. When the boats in class 3 sink, the owners run, or claim to have sold them. I know of a dozen within 20 miles of my slip, on beaches, in marshes, and even in channels. The state, with good cause, considers these derelicts eyesores on a par with junk cars.
With decreased tourism and sales tax, Florida is looking for more income
, and control, particularly of "tourist" areas. Mooring fields appeal to governments. Our present Governor is very much pro business, pro increased revenues.
With decreasing budgets, the FWC is very aware of legitimate complaints. Your voice is heard, and officers who abuse the public will pay for it.
What can we do? Every bit of trash that goes into the water
is against sailors' interests. Actively promoting ourselves as good, money
spending residents will help our cause. Informing governments of reality will help counter misinformation.
When boats stopped going to the Bahamas
because of huge fees
, the fees
were reduced. We do have economic clout, and we should let businesses know about it. A boycott by as little as %5 of a business's customers is enough to influence that business, and change their policies.
But the mooring fields are an attempt at both income
and control. As cynical as I am, I would guess it is about 50/50 in motivation.