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Date of Issue: November 04, 2009

Bradenton Beach invited to pilot mooring program

Florida officials looking to pilot an anchoring and mooring project may steer to Bradenton Beach, where efforts already are under way to establish an official mooring field.

Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature directed the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to work with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to explore options for regulating the anchoring or mooring of non-liveaboard vessels outside legally permitted mooring fields.

Following that directive, the FWC contacted Manatee County officials to solicit a partner.

“The goals of the program are to explore regulatory options that promote public access, enhance navigation safety, protect maritime infrastructure, protect the marine environment and deter improperly stored abandoned or derelict vessels,” an FWC notice stated.

When he received the state memo, Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County natural resources department, thought of Bradenton Beach.

“Manatee County has not initiated an analysis or narrowed its options to include creation of a mooring field at a specific locale,” Hunsicker said. “Alternatively, the city of Bradenton Beach has been pursuing the establishment of a legally permitted mooring field for the last two years and may meet the conditions required for the study.”

Hunsicker said if Bradenton Beach becomes a pilot city, it will “be allowed to enact an ordinance … that regulates the anchoring or mooring of non-liveaboard vessels within their jurisdiction. Experience gained from the enactment and enforcement of such an ordinance could prove valuable if the county decides to establish its own permitted field in the future.”

The Bradenton Beach City Commission is expected to consider the idea at its meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

“We’re asking that the commission approve the application,” said city project/program manager Lisa Marie Phillips.

The pilot program would target an environmentally sensitive area near Leffis Key and south toward Longboat Pass.

“You have to be very, very careful when you talk about restricting boater rights,” Phillips said. “We believe there is an area to the south of our mooring field … that should be protected.… It’s a small area. We’re not talking about north of the mooring field or on the Gulf side.”

FWC, as part of the pilot effort, is seeking to establish pilot programs in two east coast locations, two Gulf coast locations and one Monroe County location. Sites would be selected by July 1, 2011.