Levin College of Law


As more users flock to Florida waterways, conflicts have increased. From debates about what constitutes exercise of the rights of navigation to deciding who pays for dredging, many difficult topics confront those charged with managing our waterways. In 2006 the Florida Legislature began addressing some of these issues. The Legislature limited the ability of local governments to regulate non-live-aboard vessels outside of legally-permitted mooring fields. The Legislature also clarified the authority of local governments to deal with derelict vessels.

Along with increased development in coastal areas and increased boat traffic on Florida’s waterways, user conflicts, management issues, and environmental contamination all need to be addressed. The links at left connect to resources for local governments in dealing with each of these issues.

Waterways: Rights of Navigation

Congested waterways and increased development along those same waterways has resulted in conflicts over anchoring. Regulation of anchoring presents a complex picture as the area may be concurrently regulated by federal, state, and local governments. The federal navigational servitude places limits on state and local regulation of anchoring even as state law imposes limits on how a local government may regulate anchoring.

Anchoring Away was first published in 1999. It was revised in 2006 to reflect changes in state law. In 2009 further significant legislation changed the way anchoring is regulated in Florida. This 3rd edition of “Anchoring Away” represents a comprehensive review of federal and state laws on the regulation of anchoring in Florida. Boaters and local government policymakers can use it to understand their respective rights and authority.

This report and related work addressing the law of boating and waterway management has been made possible through the ongoing support of Florida Sea Grant.

Anchoring Away: Government Regulation and the Rights of Navigation in Florida (778 kb pdf)

Waterways: Boating Law Reform

Chapter 327, Florida’s Boating Law, A Legal and Policy Analysis with Recommendations for Reform (forthcoming)

A Legislative History of Chapter 327, Florida Statutes

Waterways: Waterway Management: Managed Anchorages and Mooring Fields; Derelict Vessels

Increasing boating on Florida waterways leads to new challenges in the management of waterways. Two of these challenges include anchoring/mooring issues and derelict vessels.

Managed Anchorages and Mooring Fields

This Microsoft PowerPoint® slide presents communities with a map to the process of developing a managed anchorage or mooring field.

“Community Guide to Managed Anchorages and Mooring Fields” (7.5mb ppt)

The previous document was developed for Florida. For an example of guidelines for creating a harbor management plan in Rhode Island, please see the document “Guidelines for the Development of Municipal Harbor Management Plans,” available at http://www.crmc.ri.gov/regulations/programs/muniharbors.pdf

Derelict Vessels

The following documents help local governments to both understand the current state statutes surrounding derelict vessel issues and some of the background analysis of how the law evolved.

Local Government Approaches to Derelict Vessels: A Legal Flow Chart (pdf)

Local Government Authority to Remove Abandoned and Derelict Vessels (pdf)

Local Government Regulatory Authority

This memorandum addresses issues related to local government authority to regulate vessels and install waterway markers (signage)

Signage, Restricted Areas, and Local Government Enforcement of Vessel Regulation in Florida (pdf)

Waterways: Riparian Rights

The Nature and Status of Riparian Rights in Florida

Waterways: Conservation

Florida Marine Sewage Discharge Regulation (Updated, 2007)

Tagged as:

Published: June 6th, 2011

Category: Academics

Comments are closed.