Sunday, December 17, 2017
Public safety

Coast Guard outlines limits on boat traffic for Republican National Convention

TAMPA — Leisure boaters can forget about cruising in to the Republican National Convention this August, unless they get special permission from the U.S. Coast Guard.

As part of security surrounding the downtown convention, the Coast Guard preliminarily announced recreational boats will be prohibited from entering Garrison Channel, Seddon Channel, Sparkman Channel, Ybor Channel, Ybor Turning Basin, a channel separating Davis Islands from the mainland and part of the Hillsborough River from Aug. 25 to Aug. 31.

The plans were published Tuesday in the Federal Register.

The convention, scheduled Aug. 27 through Aug. 30, is expected to draw 15,000 protesters. Coast Guard officials wrote that it also could draw threats of terrorism and violent disturbances.

The security zone covers each body of water and 20 feet of shore surrounding them, the proposal reads. Private boaters could gain access to the waterways only after receiving permission; but all others, including those whose boats are docked in the channels, could not move or access their vessels.

Commercial boats, cruise ships and freighters headed to and from their respective ports could still use the Sparkman Channel, Ybor Channel and the Ybor Turning Basin if they submit to Coast Guard conditions. Those include advanced notification, submitting to inspections and allowing law enforcement on board during the time in the security zone.

Two meetings were held in February to inform people who live and work in the communities affected by the closure, the Coast Guard said. The agency will take additional comments until June before making it final.

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