Petition calls for reopening of South Florida boat ramps

Thousands of Floridians are calling on officials to reopen South Florida boat ramps, marinas and fuel docks.

Palm Beach County has closed all public boat ramps in an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Mass gatherings of people on islands and sandbars was one of the reasons given for closing the ramps.

The petition states:

“The boating community of South Florida would like to see the marinas and boat launches opened again. A large portion of the boating community is family-oriented, and boating can provide an outlet for families under quarantine to relieve some stress. It can also provide a way for anglers to catch fish and other seafood that can be used as a means to feed their family. This would alleviate some of the burden at grocery stores by providing an alternate food source for families. That in turn could reduce the number of customers at stores and reduce the possibility of further exposure to COVID in crowded stores for both customers and employees.

“Opening the marinas and ramps also allows those facilities to keep their employees working and earning a paycheck. The other resources needed to support boating (bait, fuel stations, etc) do the same for the owners and employees of such. This in itself is a way of stimulating certain portions of our local economy.

“The boating community feels that as a ‘community’ we can follow social distancing guidelines outlined by local and state government. We also believe that we can assist law enforcement by helping to make other boaters aware that may not be following those guidelines. Keep the sandbars and islands CLOSED to prevent crowds, but let us get on the water SAFELY. We, ‘the community’ appreciate your consideration into this matter and look forward to getting on the water with our families in a safe and responsible way.”

The petition was started by Anthony Pacetti. As of Wednesday morning, it had nearly 4,000 signatures.

Public boat ramps are still open in Okeechobee, Hendry and Glades counties, with the requirement that boaters observe the required 6 feet of social distance on land. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requires boats in the water maintain a separation of 50 feet from other boats. No more than 10 people may be on one boat.

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