Georgia Shocks Boaters with New Anchoring Announcement By James H. Newsome
eorgia’s Coastal Resource Division (CRD) of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) stunned boaters in Georgia and throughout the Southeast with an announcement on May 21 that boating rules pertaining to liveaboards and anchoring were being changed effective January 1, 2020. Earlier in the year, the Georgia legislature passed amendments to current law HB201 authorizing DNR to establish new rules as well as a fee system for shortand long-term anchoring in Georgia’s coastal waters. Additionally, the state will now establish anchorage areas so boaters will not be allowed to anchor in any unapproved areas after January 1. DNR is holding a public meeting scheduled for June 17 in Brunswick, GA, at the CRD headquarters, and requesting public comment. The first meeting was set for June 17 and public comment may be submitted by email or letter until July 15. On Aug. 27, CRD will present the first draft of the rules to the Coastal Committee of the DNR, and by Dec. 1, the amended rules will be filed with the secretary of state. The proposed new rules state that anyone anchoring in Georgia coastal waters will be required to purchase a permit at a cost of $5 per night, $20 for a seven-day period, $40 for a 30-day period, or $240 for an annual period. Anchorage permits will be available at all sites that sell hunting and fishing licenses, by phone and online. Permits may be printed or maintained electronically but must always be on the vessel and available for inspection by DNR Fish and Wildlife enforcement personnel. If the vessel is unoccupied, the permit must be displayed and visible from the water. Anyone applying for an anchorage permit for a liveaboard vessel must certify to no discharge of sewage, treated or untreated, into the state’s waters. Approved anchor-
July 2019 S O U T H W I N D S
age areas will be posted online on DNR’s website. DNR has stated in their public announcement that the new rules will positively affect transient boating, because Georgia has been viewed unfriendly to boaters in the past. DNR believes that the new rules will open Georgia waters to more transient boaters and provide an added benefit of business for coastal marinas. Reaction on social media to this announcement has been mostly negative with cruisers from outside Georgia vowing to skip the state entirely if the new rules charge for and restrict anchoring. Executive director of the Georgia Marine Business Association (GAMBA) supports the new rules and says it is not an attack on cruisers and anchoring in Georgia. Many Georgia boaters were also caught by surprise with the new developments and are organizing to fight this rule change and affect a change in the law during the next legislative session in 2020. It is interesting and a concern that apparently the Seven Seas Cruising Association, the Marine Trawler Owners Association, the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association, the Waterway Guide, the Cruisers Net, nor the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association knew about this change to existing law until the news broke in late May. Apparently, only GAMBA was aware of the changes and lobbied with DNR at the General Assembly in Atlanta earlier this year. Readers are encouraged to submit comments before July 15 by mail or email to Kelly Hill, Coastal Resources Division, One Conservation Way, Brunswick, GA 31520, or Kelly.Hill@dnr.ga.gov. Additional information is available at www.CoastalGaDNR.org. Click on the “News and Notices” tab.
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