Thank you for bringing these very important considerations to the forefront of maritime safety news. Sealite sends our best wishes for safety and good health to all of you dealing with the public.
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Major, Charles Vernon
State Boating Law Administrator
Field Operations Bureau 2, Chief
Central & Western Regions
Natural Resources Police
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21401
Fishing, Other Outdoor Activities, Are Permitted Activities Under Governor's Executive Order in MaineAUGUSTA, Maine -- Engaging in outdoor exercise, such as fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, walking, running, are permitted activities under the executive order issued by Governor Mills yesterday, as long as people continue to follow social distancing guidelines."Getting outside to go fishing, hiking, canoeing, scouting for a hunt, or other outdoor activities are essential to not only your physical health, but your mental health as well, particularly during these difficult times," said Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso. "The governor and I continue to encourage people to get outdoors, but to do as close to home as possible and in strict adherence to physical distancing requirements. While it is important for your mental health to get outside, it is also important to do so safely."In Governor Mills' Executive order 28 FY19/20, it specifically states that "Engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as fishing, walking, hiking, running or biking," are permitted, "but only in compliance with the gathering restriction in Executive Order FY19/20 and all applicable social distancing guidance published by the US and Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:"Outdoor activities that are allowed include (but are not limited to) the following: Hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, boating, trapping, birding, canoeing, smelting, kayaking, fiddleheading, hiking, snowmobiling, and ATVing.Let me know if you need me to define "fiddleheading"........:)
To be sure, there is a standing order to not be out on the beach in CA.. We get it. However, we consider the response to be excessive. How many LE's were potentially put at risk over one guy on a paddleboard? All of them, in our opinion.
The American Watercraft Association's position is: If you take the prescribed precautions, handle the launch at the ramp quickly if applicable, and operate away from other watercraft, there are few better places to practice social distancing than by boating with your immediate household.
Personal watercraft owners are already required to wear a life jacket at all times, though I understand the valid concerns with other boaters not being required to. There is no reason why folks, with common sense, should be banned from operating their boats in a safe and prudent manner, following all protocols.
We recognize there are the 5 percent of boaters, who should never have a boating card to begin with. That's who LEs deal with almost exclusively. It's not unprecedented in any respect to advise citizens that in some circumstances there will be no service.
The impacts of complete bans on boating are incalculable. Our membership ranges from the wealthy with waterfront homes, to the techs twisting wrenches at the local small business dealer. Perhaps the wealthy can live without boating, but for those working folks in the industry, this is a disaster scarcely imaginable.
The people can not be kept inside or off the water for long. That's a quick road to mass noncompliance. No one has to explain to any LE where that leads.
As such, AWA will encourage our members in the near future to get on the water as a healthy endeavor, just as Mr. Barnard suggests. Plenty of air, sunlight, and exercise away from others. As long as they take precautions, it's social distancing at its best.
We cannot crash the economy in general, and our boating economy in particular. We're all smart and reasonable people. Certainly, there is a balance to be achieved. Here in Virginia, as Officer Reichle explained, we're still boating as long as we follow the protocols. That's reasonable.
We have dealers still selling watercraft. We cannot destroy any boating activity, without some forethought. All of us depend on boat registrations. I welcome any thoughts on striking a balance, or otherwise.
American Watercraft Association
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