FWC Issues Executive Order for Recreational Boaters

by SC publisher Shannen Hayes

The Sanibel public boat launch is open to only those with a proper parking sticker, as part of the city’s effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. SC photo by Associate Publisher Chuck Larsen.

In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued an executive order requiring recreational vessel occupancy be limited to no more than 10 people per vessel and maintain a minimum distance of 50 feet between vessels.

“Vessels accessing the waters of the state that do not follow the requirements outlined constitute a ‘hazard to public safety’ during this public health emergency,” states the order, which went into effect Friday, March 27.

FWC said the safety measure is meant to reflect the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis, the Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The order follows the City of Sanibel’s closure of the public boat ramp and certain beach parking lots on Sunday, March 22, as well as a press conference held Thursday, March 26, by Lee County officials to address the several matters, including boaters congregating on the water.

“I can assure you many boaters were not practicing social distancing,” Ruane said in a special city council meeting on March 25. “Many boaters were tied up to one another, which is why I tried to react very quickly by shutting down boat ramps and different areas.”

Additionally, the county redirected school resource officers to county boat ramps to hand out pamphlets outlining Florida Department of Health guidelines and beaches were covered by the sheriff’s office marine and aerial units this past weekend.

The FWC distance provision does not apply to permitted mooring fields, public or private marinas or any other permanently installed wet slips. It remains in effect until the governor’s executive order 20-52 expires or until further notice.


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