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Press Release | Jan. 22, 2024

Coast Guard, partner agencies enforce Gasparilla safety zone

Public Affairs Detachment Tampa Bay: 305-607-6347

Editor's note: All Coast Guard Southeast imagery can be found on DVIDS.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and partner agencies will be enforcing a safety zone for the Gasparilla Parade, Saturday, on Tampa Bay from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All boaters must stay 50 feet from parade vessels, stay out of restricted areas, and observe all “no wake” and “slow speed” zones while maintaining a sharp lookout for protected mammals and other sensitive wildlife.

Personal watercraft and vessels without mechanical propulsion are prohibited from the parade route. All northbound vessels without prior mooring arrangements within the Tampa Convention Center Basin and not officially entered in the Gasparilla parade must use the alternate route through Sparkman Channel.

All boaters are advised to monitor VHF Ch. 16 and contact the Coast Guard or other nearby agency partners in the event of a water emergency.

Mariners are reminded to:

  • Always wear a properly fitted Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway. 
  • Check to ensure all required safety equipment and radios are onboard, functional, and in good condition before going on the water.
  • Don’t drink and boat.
  • Check the weather before going on the water.
  • File a float plan: tell someone where you are going, and when you’ll be back.
  • Have a properly registered EPIRB or personal locator beacon. Register your EPIRB, here
  • Visit to request a vessel safety check and take a boating safety course; we all need a refresher sometimes.

The Coast Guard advises the public to check for a Coast Guard-issued captain’s license before paying to ride on a boat.

“We want everyone to be safe and have fun during Gasparilla,” said Capt. Michael Kahle, Sector St. Petersburg commander. "Drink responsibly and have a designated boat driver, don’t pay for a charter without checking for a Coast Guard-issued Captain’s license, and don’t forget to make sure your loved ones are wearing a life jacket.”

All spectators are reminded it is against Florida law to throw any items into Tampa Bay or coastal waterways of the state, including beads thrown from boats during the parade.

Partner agencies include the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Tampa Police Department, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, and additional local, state, and federal law enforcement partners.

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