Oct. 2, 2003 – The Planning and Natural Resources Department began enforcement operations in St. John's Coral Bay this week that are aimed at bringing all boats into compliance with the territory's new Mooring and Anchoring Act.
About 25 boats anchored in the mangroves across from the dinghy dock received notices to get out within 48 hours.
Acknowledging that some of the owners may be away or otherwise unaware that they have notices on their boats, a DPNR enforcement officer called those for whom he had telephone numbers to let them know they have to move. "I'm explaining it's not a mooring area," he said.
The officer, who asked not to be identified, said that starting next week, DPNR "more than likely" will move the remaining vessels out of the mangroves and anchor them in the harbor. The department will dispose of boats unclaimed after about 30 days, he said.
The move to get boats out of the Coral Bay mangroves is part of a larger effort that includes tagging vessels that were not registered during the June registration period, those that failed to renew their mooring permits, and those that are not on their designated mooring sites.
"We're checking now because the government can bring in all the revenues it can," Lucia Francis, director of the DPNR Enforcement Division, said. She said the enforcement operation is under way throughout the territory.
To protect the mangroves, boats are not supposed to be tied up there in the first place unless a severe storm is approaching. And at the moment, Francis said, "We have no hurricane threatening."
While the Coral Bay area is not officially designated a safe haven, Francis said, boaters wanting to rely on it in that regard are allowed to leave their anchors in place for the rest of hurricane season. That allows them to mark their place and also will enable them to secure their vessels quickly, should a hurricane approach. They are required to mark their anchors with a ball.
Boats can be moved into the mangroves three to four days before a storm threatens; they must be moved out within two days after the threat passes. Francis said boaters should wait until the last minute to tie up to the mangroves, and "they must use chafing gear."
At other times, she said, boaters may anchor for the day near the mangroves if they have business ashore, but they may not stay overnight.
Boater George Cline, who received a notice, said he then moved his boat. However, he was upset that DPNR picked the middle of hurricane season to make boaters move. "It's absolute stupidity and harassment," he said.
The notice placed on Cline's vessel and others reads "Removal of Abandoned Motor Vehicles." Francis said she did not know why that notice was used instead of one indicating boats.
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