Boats anchored in Blackwater Sound, Key Largo.

Boats anchored in Blackwater Sound, Key Largo.    

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will hold a public roundtable discussion with local government representatives to hear feedback on issues related to vessel anchoring in Monroe County generally and subsection 327.4108(3), Florida Statutes.

The FWC will solicit comments from the public at this meeting to hear directly from stakeholders interested in this issue.

The roundtable meeting will be 6–8 p.m. Oct. 26, via Zoom.

Interested people wishing to attend can do so at: MonroeCounty-fl.gov/PublicWorkshopOct26.

During the 2021 legislative session, the Florida Legislature recognized Monroe County’s unique circumstances due to the abundance of long-term anchorages in the waters surrounding the Florida Keys and designated Monroe County an anchoring limitation area.

The bill creating this language was overwhelmingly approved by both the Senate and House. It was signed into law by Gov. DeSantis on June 29, 2021.

The new law designates that Monroe County will become an enforceable anchoring limitation area in which a vessel may not anchor in the same location for more than 90 days once the county approves permits and opens new moorings as required by the bill.

Until that time, FWC law enforcement shall make the area within 1 mile of the Key West Bight City Dock a priority for derelict vessel investigation and removal of derelict vessels.

Monroe County is home to the largest number of long-term anchorages in the state.

In Key West, where housing is expensive and scarce, living on a vessel provides an inexpensive and available workforce housing alternative.

However, vessels left without needed maintenance and upkeep can become inoperable, degrade quickly and become derelict, posing public safety and environmental risks. More derelict vessels are removed from Monroe County each year than any other area of the state.

As of October 2021, law enforcement has documented 164 derelict vessels within Monroe County in the FWC’s derelict vessel database.

The Florida Keys was designated an Area of Critical State Concern by the State of Florida in 1975 due to environmental sensitivity of the area and development pressures. The waters and sea floor surrounding the Keys are vulnerable.

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