Clarification on Boating Related COVID-19 Regulations

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BROOKSVILLE, Fla.– At the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners meeting on April 14, 2020, Commissioner Steve Champion brought up concerns related to boating citations issued for violations of a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) Executive Order.

The Executive Order from the FWC issued on March 27, 2020 states that boats should remain at least 50 feet apart with no more than 10 people on board.  From FWC Executive Order 20-09:

“I hereby designate all waters of the state to be a boating-restricted area and the owners and operators of recreational vessels, as defined ins. 327.02, F.S., thereon are subject to the following restrictions:

“a. Recreational vessel occupancy is limited to no more than 10 persons per vessel; and

“b. A minimum distance of 50 feet between recreational vessels and any other vessel shall be maintained;

“i. This distance provision does not apply to permitted mooring fields, public or private marinas, or any other permanently installed wet slips, and does not apply to vessels     underway unless they are tied, rafted or moored to another vessel. ”

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office public information officer, Michael Terry stated that thus far, “…all efforts have been educational, or warnings.  Deputies have not issued any citations for anything other than alcohol or no wake zone violations.”

We are awaiting information from the FWC regarding violations they may have issued to enforce the Executive Order within county waters.

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office provided some boat-ramp related guidance on April 3:

“Currently, many of the boat ramps throughout the state remain open, including Hernando County boat ramps, to the public. The FWC’s Florida Public Boat Ramp Finder is updated every 24-hours to include information regarding boat ramp open/closed status. Before leaving on a trip, it’s important to check with local, county, and statewide Emergency Orders and with the managing entity of the boat ramp if it’s not run by the FWC.

“Restrictions are subject to change. Before leaving on a trip, it’s important to check with local, county, and statewide Emergency Orders and with the managing entity of the boat ramp if it’s not run by the FWC.”