BoatU.S. shares its stance on boater licensing

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – New BoatU.S. President Nancy Michelman is taking a stance against a recent push towards boater licensing by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials.

In a statement issued this week, the boater association said that not only has recreational boating never been safer, licensing would fail to deliver a significant increase in national security.

“Recent calls by Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard officials that recreational boating would be safer if boaters were “certified” and required to show proof of identification is just not backed up by the facts,” said BoatU.S. President Nancy Michelman. “The rate of recreational boating fatalities per 100,000 boats has been cut by 75 percent and the number of boating fatalities has been reduced by 58 percent since the implementation of the landmark Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971.”

Currently, Congress is considering Administration-backed legislation that could result in licensing boaters in the name of national security because the Coast Guard does not believe it has the authority to require a boat operator to produce identification absent probable cause, reported BoatU.S.

“Requiring millions of recreational boat owners to be licensed and tasking the already overburdened Coast Guard with implementing a duplicative system solely to identify those operating a boat will be costly to develop, take years to implement and will not result in a demonstrable improvement in national security,” said BoatU.S. at a recent “summit” meeting held under Homeland Security Department auspices.

Instead, BoatU.S. said it believes a comprehensive waterway security program needs to be established.

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“It would be far simpler and much less costly for the Coast Guard to ask Congress for the authority to require boat operators to produce the same identification now required to board a commercial airline flight,” the group said in its statement. “In addition, the Coast Guard should substantially expand its Waterway Watch program to enable thousands of recreational boaters to be the Coast Guard’s eyes and ears on the waterways and, it should clearly mark security zones – both public and private – to ensure that boaters know where they can and can not go.”

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