USA, Georgia: New Regulations for Overnight Anchoring and Waste Disposal.

Effective from January 1, 2020, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has implemented new regulations for overnight anchoring and waste disposal from vessels along the state’s coastline.

Published 3 years ago

Coastal Georgia, USA.

The state of Georgia on the east coast of the USA has more than 160kms of coastline and is a popular destination for cruisers heading north from Florida.  The Georgia portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) has many anchorages and the coastal marshlands are considered a vital natural resource for the state’s economy.

Effective from January 1, 2020, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has implemented new regulations for overnight anchoring and waste disposal from vessels along the state’s coastline.

Waste Disposal:

To protect the estuarine marshes and shellfish areas, vessels cannot discharge any waste directly into Georgia’s estuarine waters, regardless of whether the waste has been treated.

Waste must be discharged at one of 19 pump-out stations along Georgia’s coast.  Additionally, marine sanitation devices must be secured in a manner such that waste can only be discharged at a pump-out station.

Overnight Anchoring:

While a permit is not necessary for overnight anchoring, there are now strict areas where you cannot anchor.  These are:

  • within 300 meters (1,000 ft)* of marked shellfish beds, whether commercial leases or public-picking areas.
  • within 300 meters (1,000 ft)* of any structure, such as public and private docks, wharfs, bridges, piers and pilings, except in areas near marinas.

*  Note:  the exclusion zone applies to the vessel’s swing circle.

However “marina zones,” have been created, which allow boaters to anchor as close as 90 meters (300 ft) to marinas or facilities that provide fuel, dinghy access, provisions, vessel maintenance or other services, regardless of whether other structures exist nearby. Boaters may anchor overnight within these marina zones.

Mr Doug Haymans, director of the Coastal Resources Division (CRD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said the law change and associated administrative order was not intended to restrict or impact boaters engaged in fishing and other recreational activities.

“The intent of the change and enforcement will be to prohibit overnight anchoring in locations that could degrade shellfish production, cause navigation hazards, or create conflicts between waterfront homeowners and the boating public,” he said.


Noonsite has been advised that non-compliance with the new laws can result in a misdemeanor criminal offense punishable with up to 12 months in jail.

Cruisers who have crossed the Atlantic Ocean and intend sailing up the east coast of the USA, should ensure they are aware of the restrictions and requirements to avoid any problems.

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  1. August 2, 2021 at 10:02 AM
    Hugh17 says:

    The information on this page is outdated and incorrect. As pointed out below by Ted Arisaka representatives from several boating groups led an effort to encourage GA to revise the very unpopular boating/anchoring restrictions resulting in new legislation which became law with the Governor’s signature in mid 2021. Link to GA’s new law is

    The new bill HB833 was crafted with a better understanding by GA DNR that cruisers are not the problem with long-term anchoring issues. Therefore specific definitions of short and long-term anchoring were included in HB833. Link to anchoring regulations is

    If you have questions please visit Facebook group Save Georgia’s Anchorages and we will answer them.

    Now if we could figure out how to get Noonsite to update this page it would be great.

    1. August 6, 2021 at 7:22 PM
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      sue-richards says:

      Thanks for the info. Hugh. This is a news item from February 2020, not a Noonsite information page. It’s good to know the latest and the information in the USA section has been updated.

  2. June 23, 2020 at 8:48 PM
    arisatx says:

    Since I last commented on these onerous laws restricting anchoring in Georgia, there have been other bigger challenges for cruisers that have appeared on the horizon. But today, there is some small dose of good news as House Bill 833 today (23 Jun 2020) passed in the Georgia Senate and now goes on for the Governor’s signature. Here is the announcement posted in our FB page: The Georgia Senate has just passed HB 833, and the Bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

    As all of you know, HB833 essentially reverses the onerous anti boating provisions that were passed into law this past January. That bill caused widespread anger amongst cruising boaters and resulted in the formation of this grassroots group to fight it.

    HB 833 removes the ability to require permits for all overnight anchoring, removes the requirement to keep records of pump outs, and perhaps most importantly, removes the requirement that boats not anchor within 1,000 feet of waterfront structures and within 300 feet of marinas.

    HB833 changes those set-back distances to 150-feet from waterfront structures, 300-feet from marinas, and 500-feet from commercial shellfish beds for short-term anchoring, which is defined as anchoring in the same place for up to 14 cumulative nights per calendar year. Long term anchoring (over 14 days in the same place) will require a permit.

    This was a major undertaking and it could NOT have happened without the support you gave the Save Georgia’s Anchorages team who put in countless hours looking out for your interests.

    What is especially important to remember is that SGA worked alongside and as an equal partner with other, more established groups – the AGLCA, NMMA, Waterway Guide, Boat US and also Scott Draper, our lobbyist.

    And let’s not forget the contributions of Cruisers Net, the MTOA and SSCA in this effort. It was a helluva team and they got it done.

    In particular however, the efforts of SGA members and co-founders James H. Newsome, Jack White, Ted Arisaka and Bob Keller were instrumental in getting ‘er done. Someday, perhaps when I’ve had one beer too many, I’ll tell some of the backroom stories about how hard these guys worked and the late hours they put in to protect our rights to anchor in GA.

    But – and I mean this sincerely – when all is said and done, all of our work at the pointy end is worthless without the support of you, the boating public. We did the talking, but the State of Georgia was hearing you, listening to you speak through our words.

    Thank you from all of us at SGA for your support.

  3. February 23, 2020 at 12:35 PM
    arisatx says:

    Thank you Noonsite for publishing this alert. Three is a a Facebook Group dedicated to discussion on these new regulations

    Here is our last announcement of the many US Boating Groups who are working together to raise funds to lobby against these regulations:

    As you’ve heard, last year’s House Bill 201 became law on 1/1/2020 and now Georgia has the distinction of having the nation’s most restrictive anchoring laws, stripping away the right to freely navigate on the waters the state holds in public trust. This impacts not only Georgia boaters but every boater, both domestic and international, who plans to navigate through Georgia waters.

    HB201 was a complex and flawed hodge podge of regulations, but was sold in the House and the Senate at an absurdly high level of simplification, leaving out key components that were objectionable to boaters, and focusing instead on water quality and revitalization of a local shellfish industry.

    So as we look to HB833 to remedy the wrongs of HB201, we must be able now to sell those points to our legislators under the gold dome of Atlanta. A core group of boating rights advocates have started a Georgia Anchoring Advocacy Fund to engage the services of a lobbyist to do exactly this. So far we have received commitments for financial support from:

    America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (AGLCA)
    Cruisers’ Net
    DeFever Cruisers
    Facebook Group Save Georgia’s Anchorages
    Marine Trawlers Owners Association (MTOA)
    Sevens Seas Cruising Association (SSCA)
    Waterway Guide
    and many supporters without official affiliations, including several from non US cruisers!

    This is every boater’s fight. What is happening in Georgia can happen in your cruising waters.