The Marine Resources Office maintains a system of waterway markers throughout the nearshore waters of the Florida Keys. This system is designed to assist boaters and protect shallow-water resources. This includes more than 300 channel markers associated with 38 marker chains and 251 regulatory markers associated with 24 boating regulatory zones.
In 1998, Monroe County developed a Channel Marking Master Plan that set criteria and plans for improving waterway marking to address seagrass scarring impacts. In the early 2000s, Monroe County established several new marker chains and boating regulatory zones to further these objectives. Installation and maintenance of markers must adhere to strict design and regulatory criteria set forth by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Boating & Waterways Section. In addition, the establishment of regulatory zones must also go through a stringent review and approval process with FWC.
Channel Markers & Aids to Navigation
The Marine Resources Office maintains 301 aids to navigation (including channel markers) stretching over 200 miles of nearshore waters of the Florida Keys. These markers serve the needs of the boating community by providing safe navigation in 38 marker chains from Broad Creek north of Key Largo to Lakes Passage west of Key West.
Regulatory Markers & Zones
The Marine Resources Office also maintains 251 regulatory markers associated with 24 boating restricted areas throughout the Florida Keys established to regulate vessel speed and access, such as Idle Speed and No Motor Zones. The purpose of these zones is to improve boater safety, reduce user conflict, and minimize impacts to shallow-water resources. These zones are regulated and enforced by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Boating Restricted Areas are regulated by Chapter 327.46 of the Florida Statutes. These areas are created for specific safety reasons and must go through a stringent review and approval process by the FWC before establishment. Each regulatory zone in Monroe County was established via ordinance.