Standing Watch says government infringing on boater’s rights

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – The president of Standing Watch, Florida’s largest coalition of independent boaters, issued a press release Wednesday afternoon condemning a decision made earlier this week by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The release calls Monday’s announcement by the U.S. F&WS – which said the agency will no longer approve dock-building permits in five waterways near Ft. Myers, where a state judge recently ruled manatee protection boat speed zones cannot be enforced – “unconstitutional.” It goes on to say that the government’s action, “will have long-lasting effects on Florida’s vital retirement and tourism industries.”

“Action this week by the USF&WS completely eliminating the construction of all new docks in Lee County one of SW Florida’s most important retirement communities is deplorable,” Standing Watch president Rusty Parsons said. “The federal government has just effectively denied water access to boaters in Lee County, an act we consider unconstitutional.

“[The U.S. F&WS action] follows closely a recent Florida court decision that many manatee zones in Lee County are not based on science and therefore unconstitutional. Federal agencies are required to have open, public hearings before making such sweeping decisions.

“Three years ago, local representative Lindsay Harrington passed a law to provide local review in situations such as this,” the release concluded. “Standing Watch calls on Lee County officials to initiate this process of oversight.”

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