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June 5, 2006 – Making Waves

Long-awaited victory at Gulf Islands park
Long one of the most high-profile of parks that still have a PWC ban in effect, Gulf Islands National Seashore recently joined the list of parks that have reopened the doors to personal watercraft use within their borders.
“Today another national park has reaffirmed that personal watercraft are among the cleanest and quietest motorboats on the water,” said Maureen Healey, executive director of the Personal Watercraft Industry Association. “In every single instance —15 to date — where a scientific study has measured the impact of PWC on a body of water where motorized boating is permitted, these studies conclude that PWC should be allowed.”
Unlike some parks, which have reopened to PWC but maintained limited areas off limits, the final rule at Gulf Islands allows for PWC usage in all park waters that are open to other types of boating traffic.
Coast Guard Seeks Authority To Require consumer Education
According to a recent newsletter from the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association, the United States Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety has requested that Congress grant the agency authority to require recreational boaters to meet some standard for “operational proficiency.”
Currently, states have widely varying requirements for boat operators. If granted, such a provision would allow the Coast Guard to enforce a federal standard where no state standard exists.
According to Jeff Hoedt, office head, the goal would be to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on the water. Hoedt acknowledged that any federal requirement could potentially lead to mandatory certification or licensing of recreational boaters. psb

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