Since COVID-19 is now spreading around the country, public boat ramps in Manatee County are now closed. These closures went into effect on Thursday, March 26th. Commercial fishermen with a Florida Saltwater Products License and a U.S. Coast Guard Six-Pack Captain’s License can still access the Coquina South Boat Ramp in Bradenton and the Riverside Boat Ramp in Palmetto. However, charter fisherman are currently restricted from using public boat ramps in Manatee County.

The Coquina South Boat Ramp in Bradenton is open daily from 7am to 7pm. The Riverside Boat Ramp in Palmetto is open daily from 7am to 3pm. The Riverside Boat Ramp consists of two ramps located side by side. One side is blocked by large concrete blocks. After 3pm, a large city vehicle is parked to block the other side for the rest of the day. Law enforcement officials are stationed at both ramps to check licenses, names, and vessel numbers. 

The public boat ramp closing does not restrict charter fishing trips or recreational boat trips that begin from a marina or a private dock.

In addition, the public boat ramps in Sarasota are still open. However, this is subject to change. 

If you aren’t taking social distancing on the water seriously, think twice. Governor DeSantis has directed the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to enforce social distancing guidelines on Florida waterways. Groups should stick to ten or less, and boat parties/large crowds should be avoided. There are plenty of ways to get out on the water that ensures you and your fellow boaters are safe. Kayaking is an idea we shared with you last week. We’ll continue to share our ideas with you, as the COVID-19 situation unfolds. Stay safe and healthy!