2023 Advocacy Fundraising Underway
Our annual Advocacy Fundraising Campaign is now underway. As many of you are aware, AGLCA is part of a coalition of boating organizations that includes DeFever Cruisers, Marine Trawlers Owners Association (MTOA) and Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA). Our coalition raises funds to engage on issues that could hinder boaters, particularly long-distance cruisers, from enjoying U.S. waterways including the Great Loop route. We know not everyone agrees on some of the issues for which we advocate, so AGLCA does not use dues money to support these efforts. That’s why we reach out to members annually and allow you to choose whether you wish to support the initiatives and if so, choose how much you wish to contribute. While the coalition does include other associations, AGLCA is tasked with raising the most funds since our Association has more members than our coalition partners combined.
We continuously monitor legislation in all states around the Great Loop, but the majority of the funds we raise are used to retain a political consulting firm in Florida, a bellwether state for boating regulations. This strategy has been highly successful in preventing proposals adverse to cruisers from becoming law. We are hoping for a quiet legislative session in 2023 but we still believe keeping a lobbyist on retainer in Florida is required to ensure our interests continue to be represented.
We had a major success with passage of the Anchoring Limitations Areas (ALAs) during Florida’s last legislative session, and we will continue to monitor this law moving forward. Our advocacy coalition advocated for ALAs as a compromise solution for the annual onslaught of municipalities seeking to close anchorages to overnight stays. Following is why was a compromise necessary that limits anchor in any way.
Some years back a few anchorages were closed to overnight anchoring when a law passed the Florida legislature known as section 4108. Since the passage of that law carving out these anchorages as “Anchoring Restriction Areas”, it has been far too easy for additional municipalities to add their anchorages to section 4108 with a simple bill brought before the legislature. It seems the legislative delegations in these areas thought this would help alleviate the derelict vessel situation but, unfortunately, that would be at the expense of active cruisers. In 2021, no bills filed to add additional anchorages to section 4108 made it out of committee, largely due to our efforts. That was a win but the even bigger win was the bill that passed allowing local jurisdictions to create Anchoring Limitation Areas, which are allowed in narrow waterways, heavily congested areas and where there are many public and private waterfront structures. The important provisions in the bill that passed include:
- If a local government creates an ALA, boats may still anchor there for up to 45 days. This means it has little, if any, impact on active cruisers.
- An ALA must be less than 100 acres in size and cannot be more than 10% of a county’s navigable waters. Again, this is not hugely relevant for Loopers, because you can anchor there for 45 days anyway.
- The four carve outs from section 4108 have received grandfathered status. This means it makes it very challenging (but not impossible) for additional jurisdictions to add anchorages to this list. This is the provision that makes strides towards our overall goal of eliminating anchoring restrictions affecting cruisers in Florida.
We are happy to report that we are seeing these provisions being implemented and we will continue to monitor this relatively new law in 2023 to ensure there are no efforts to amend the parameters mentioned above in a way that would negatively impact cruisers, or to add anchorages to section 4108 even though it is now grandfathered.
In addition to monitoring the ALA law in 2023, we will also be watching a study conducted by the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) on derelict vessels. It is being conducted in accordance with Section 327.4109(6), F.S. and the study’s findings and recommendations will be submitted to the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in late 2023.
The study is to better understand the impacts of long-term stored vessels on local communities and the state of Florida. According to the Vessel Study website (www.vesselstudy.com), the study considers a long-term stored vessel as “a boat on state waters which is not under the supervision or control of a person capable of operating, maintaining, or moving it from one location to another and which has remained anchored or moored outside of a public mooring field for at least 30 days out of a 60-day period.” The study will be looking at the entire state of Florida with special emphasis on the following counties: Bay, Brevard, Duval, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Pinellas.
The study objectives are to:
- Investigate whether, and to what extent, long-term stored vessels contribute to the number of abandoned and derelict vessels on Florida’s waters.
- Explore the impacts that long-term stored vessels have on the following after natural disasters: local and state economies, public safety, public boat ramps, staging docks and marinas, the environment.
- Recommend appropriate management options for long-term stored vessels to mitigate any identified negative impacts to local communities and the state of Florida.
These are just a few of the things we will be watching in 2023 but we do hope you’ll consider making a contribution so that we may continue to work to keep the waterways open and safe for Loopers. We have a proven track record with past efforts so your donation will be worth the investment.