Letter: Mooring field pilot program

Dear Editor:

Your St. Augustine Port Waterway and Beach district meeting will be June 21st at 3:00 p.m. at the St. Augustine Beach Municipal Building.

Agenda and past minutes are posted on the website: www.staugustineport.com

On May 26th, the City hosted a brief public comments meeting for the Pilot Program.

The Pilot Program, an FWC experiment, uses 5 Florida maritime sites to explore what works, what doesn’t work, with regard to anchoring regulations.

St. Augustine municipality (city limits) is one of them. Key Largo to Key West –Monroe County–is another. Each site gets to advance its notions of ordinances, with guidance and approval from Fish and Wildlife.

Based on this experiment in ordinance engineering, in 2014 our Legislature will adopt what seems to work best and make that the law on the water in Florida. Or, they might discard it all. ANY ordinance City adopts for the Pilot Program becomes null and void July 2014–unless Legislature adopts it statewide.

Our public waters provide anchoring for a diverse group of boat owners. Most are responsible. As of today, FWC has 10 anchored boats outside the city limits of St. Augustine, earmarked “At Risk” or “Derelict”.

With due process those boats will move on, most probably to the landfill.

They’re being processed using current laws, nothing from the Pilot Program.

My concern is Pilot Program local ordinances can be an exercise in futility good for 36 months–long enough to give St. Augustine a bad name if our ordinances are onerous.

We have laws that can be enforced. Asking boaters to be the enforcers will not rid of us those boats and boat-owners who will always find a means or a location to evade their responsibilities for their proper use of public waters.

After 90 days in FL waters a boat is required to buy Florida registration. I counted 10 boats not showing registration in Salt Run on May 26; some were on City moorings.

One point was made often enough at that Pilot Program meeting: our Pump Out boat could put the San Sebastian River marinas/boats on its regular schedule. City noted the validity of that, and boaters should take advantage of that service with our Florida DEP-taxfunded Pump Out boat.

June 30th, between 5-6 pm, there’s a second City meeting to hear your comments.

See you then at the Alcazar room,

Jay Bliss, USCG Licensed Captain
St Augustine Port Commissioner Seat 5

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