Registration may soon be required for paddleboards, kayaks, other motorless watercraft

State panel to discuss nonmotorized boating issues

ORLANDO, Fla. – A group will meet Wednesday and Thursday in Orlando to discuss issues with nonmotorized water vessels, possibly including whether licensing fees should be imposed for Floridians who own kayaks, canoes and paddleboards, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Officials from the Non-Motorized Boats Working Group, which reports to the FWC, told the Orlando Sentinel that the fee would likely be less than $20 per year. The fee would help regulation regulate watercraft and could be used to pay for law enforcement, access to paddling areas, search-and-rescue operations and more.

"I think it's a line of common sense and that line needs to be drawn," said Girard Middleton, owner of Sobe Surf & Paddle in Merritt Island.

"We need to just look at something and use our common sense about it and don't let people who aren't experts in the sport make the decision," the 52-year-old pioneer of paddleboarding on the East Coast continued.

Unlike some who reject any thought of needing registration entirely, Cocoa Beach paddleboarder Melissa Kilpatrick is open to the idea, saying there should be a way to identify paddlers.

"(It's) uncharted territory, but there certainly could be positives," she told News 6 on Tuesday. "It would be easier to identify you with the Coast Guard should you be in an emergency."

The Non-Motorized Boats Working Group is meeting Wednesday and Thursday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at SeaWorld Orlando to discuss the proposal and vote on what recommendation to make to FWC.

Click here to read more on this story on OrlandoSentinel.com.

You can also scroll through the map embedded below to see some of the canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding hot spots across Central Florida.

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