Legislature bans overnight anchoring on Fort Lauderdale's Middle River

Mar 08, 2016

The Florida House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 105-12, on Friday to adopt a bill that would restrict anchoring at five locations in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

HB 1051 would prohibit anchoring from a half hour after sunset until a half hour before sunrise on the Middle River between N.E. 21st Court and the Intracoastal Waterway in Broward County; Sunset Lake in Miami-Dade County; and the sections of Biscayne Bay in Miami-Dade County between Rivo Alto Island and Di Lido Island, San Marino Island and San Marco Island, and San Marco Island and Biscayne Island.

The bill gives vessel operators some reprieve from the restrictions if their boat suffers a dangerous mechanical failure, if weather conditions pose a risk if they move their boat, or if they are attending a special event. Recreational and commercial fishermen actively engaged in fishing; government, law enforcement, military and fire-rescue boats; and construction and dredge vessels on active jobs would be exempted from the rule.

HB 1051, in effect, exempts the five anchorages in Broward and Miami-Dade counties from a 2009 state law that prohibits localities from preventing liveaboards or cruising boats from anchoring in their waters.

The bill makes the case that these waters should be exempted because they are in “densely populated urban areas which have narrow state waterways, residential docking facilities and significant recreational boating traffic.”

These also are anchorages where there has been user conflict between boaters and waterfront property owners, who say boaters anchor behind their homes for weeks at a time and are an eyesore and a nuisance.

The House on Friday referred HB 1051 to the state Senate’s Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, Appropriation Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development and Fiscal Policy Committee, all of which have taken up a Senate anchoring bill, SB 1260, that is nearly identical to the House version.