FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[58 PA. CODE CHS. 91, 95, 97, 109 AND 113]
[28 Pa.B. 1533]
The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapters 91, 95, 97, 109 and 113. The Commission is publishing these amendments as a notice of proposed rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to Fish and Boat Code) (code). The proposed amendments concern boating.
A. Effective Date
These proposed amendments will, if approved on final rulemaking, go into effect upon publication of an order adopting the regulations.
B. Contact Person
For further information on the proposed changes, contact Laurie E. Shepler, Assistant Counsel, (717) 657-4546, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000. This proposal is available electronically through the Commission's Web site (http://www.fish.state.pa.us).
C. Statutory Authority
These proposed amendments are published under the statutory authority of section 5123 of the code (relating to general boating regulations).
D. Purpose and Background
The proposed amendments are designed to update, modify and improve Commission regulations pertaining to boating. The specific purpose of the proposed amendments is described in more detail under the summary of proposal. Prior to consideration by the Commission, the Commission's Boating Advisory Board considered the proposed amendments and recommended adoption by the Commission.
E. Summary of Proposal
1) Section 91.2 (relating to definitions). The Commission's Bureau of Law Enforcement has reported that many boat operators are not counting passengers being towed behind their boats as being included in the number of persons allowed on the boat as rated by the capacity plate. To clarify this requirement, the Commission proposes to amend the definition of ''passenger.''
2) Sections 91.4 and 109.3 (relating to age of operator; and personal watercraft). The Commission recently amended § 109.3 to provide that: (1) no one 11 years old or younger may operate a personal watercraft; (2) persons 12 to 15 years of age may operate a personal watercraft alone, with no passengers on board, only if they have in their possession a Boating Safety Certificate issued or recognized by the Commission; and (3) persons 12 to 15 years of age may operate a personal watercraft with or without a Boating Safety Certificate if accompanied by someone at least 18 years of age. This is somewhat different from the requirement of § 91.4 that provides that persons 11 years of age or younger must be accompanied by someone at least 16 years of age to operate a motorboat of 10 horsepower or more. This section also requires persons 12 to 15 years of age to obtain a Boating Safety Certificate to operate boats alone with no restrictions on passengers. If they do not have a certificate, they must be accompanied by someone at least 16 years of age. The primary difference between boats of 10 horsepower or more and personal watercraft is that no one 11 years of age or younger may operate a personal watercraft, and persons 12 to 15 years of age may not operate a personal watercraft with passengers unless the passengers are at least 18 years of age. The new § 109.3 is somewhat difficult to understand or to explain, especially with the different age of operator requirements in § 91.4. To simplify the regulations, the Commission proposes to amend § 91.4 and to delete § 109.3(h) in its entirety.
3) Section 91.6 (relating to certificates). The Commission currently issues Boating Safety Education Certificates free of charge to residents who have successfully completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), an approved Commission, a United States Power Squadrons or a United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (Auxiliary) classroom boating course. The NASBLA recommends that the states recognize, for reciprocity, courses that have been approved by NASBLA and recognized by the United States Coast Guard (U.S.C.G.). The Commission therefore proposes to accept Boating Safety Education Certificates from boaters coming into this Commonwealth from out of state that are issued by another state or province or by the Auxiliary or United States Power Squadrons in another state or province. Certificates issued by private companies or Internet programs would not be accepted.
4) Section 95.3 (relating to lights for boats). The Federal Rules of the Road exclude boats less than 7 meters in length from the requirement of displaying an anchor light when not in a channel or other area where boats normally navigate. The Commission intended, with § 95.3(d), to remove this exemption to require lights on all boats on all waters of this Commonwealth. Instead, a strict reading of the regulation leads to an interpretation that only those boats less than 7 meters are required to display anchor lights. The Commission proposes amending this regulation to clarify that an anchor light is required on all boats at all times on most Commonwealth waters.
5) Section 97.1 (relating to personal flotation devices). This section prohibits the use of recreational vessels without one personal flotation device (PFD) for each person on board. The code does not define the word ''recreational,'' and the word ''vessel'' is a boat that is defined as ''every description of watercraft constructed or sold for the primary purpose of being used as a means of transportation on water.'' The use of these two terms together creates several problems. One is that the requirement appears not to apply to vessels used in commerce since they are not used for recreation. Second, the strict definition of ''vessel'' excludes certain other craft from the requirement. If the vessel was not intended as a means of transportation on water, its passengers don't have to have PFDs. The Commission therefore proposes to amend this section to replace the term ''recreational vessel'' with the broader term ''boat'' since it was not the original intent of this regulation to limit the PFD requirement to recreational vessels only.
6) Section 109.3 (relating to personal watercraft). A request has been received by the Bureau of Law Enforcement to amend this section so that the number of water skiers towed by a personal watercraft is limited to one. Law enforcement officers have noticed an increase in situations where operators are exceeding the carry capacity of personal watercraft by pulling more than one skier while having a full capacity of passengers on board. If an emergency were to occur or a skier wanted to board the vessel, they would be unable to do so. This creates an unsafe boating practice that needs to be more clearly addressed in the regulations. Therefore, the Commission proposes to amend this section to address this concern.
7) Chapter 113 (relating to Aids to Navigation and Obstructions to Navigation). The United States began conversion of the United States Aids to Navigation System (system) to harmonize with the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) Maritime Buoyage System in 1985, and completed the conversion for all U.S.C.G. maintained aids in 1989. The system has not changed in substance. It remains primarily a lateral aids to navigation system. The major changes are the introduction of the yellow special mark, the replacement of the black and white mid-channel aids with the red and white safe water mark, and most notably, the replacement of the older black port-hand buoys with green buoys. Information and regulatory marks remain the same as that of the Uniform State Waterway Marking System (USWMS). The states were not required to change to the system, but the Commission felt that since the U.S.C.G. was making the change, the Commonwealth should as well. The Commission started replacing the black buoys and black and white mid-channel buoys when they were no longer serviceable; the Commission replaced them with the green buoys and the red and white safe water buoys. All buoys in this Commonwealth now conform to the system. The U.S.C.G. has proposed rules that would eliminate the USWMS. The Commission therefore proposes amending Chapter 113 to reflect the current practice.
The proposed amendments will not increase paperwork and will create no new paperwork requirements.
G. Fiscal Impact
The proposed amendments will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The proposed amendments will impose no new costs on the private sector or the general public.
H. Public Comments
Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, objections or suggestions about the proposed amendments to the Executive Director, Fish and Boat Commission, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, within 30 days after publication of this notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted.
Comments also may be submitted electronically at ''email@example.com.'' A subject heading of the proposal and a return name and address must be included in each transmission. If an acknowledgment of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt.
PETER A. COLANGELO,
Fiscal Note: 48A-77. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.
TITLE 58. RECREATION
PART II. FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
Subpart C. BOATING
CHAPTER 91. GENERAL PROVISIONS
§ 91.2. Definitions.
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(c) The term ''passenger'' means any person on a boat, including persons being towed using any device.
§ 91.4. Age of operator.
(a) [A person 11 years of age or younger may not operate a motorboat propelled by a motor greater than 10 horsepower unless at least one person 16 years of age or older is present on the watercraft.] A person 11 years of age or younger may not operate a personal watercraft.
(b) [A person 12 through 15 years of age may not operate a motorboat propelled by a motor of greater than 10 horsepower without obtaining a Boating Safety Certificate issued or recognized by the Commonwealth, unless there is at least one other person in the boat 16 years of age or older.] A person 11 years of age or younger may not operate a motorboat (other than a personal watercraft) propelled by a motor of greater than 10 horsepower unless at least one person 16 years of age or older is present on the watercraft.
(c) A person 12 through 15 years of age may not operate a motorboat (other than a personal watercraft) propelled by a motor of greater than 10 horsepower unless the person has obtained and has in his possession a Boating Safety Education Certificate or the person is accompanied on board by a person who is 16 years of age or older.
(d) A person 12 through 15 years of age may not operate a personal watercraft unless the person has obtained and has in his possession a Boating Safety Education Certificate and there are no passengers on board the personal watercraft under 16 years of age.
§ 91.6. Certificates.
(b) A Boating Safety Education Certificate is one issued to an individual by one of the following:
(1) The Commission or by another state or province for successful completion of a boating safety education program approved by the Commission and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
(2) The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary or the United States Power Squadrons in another state or province for successful completion of a boating safety education program approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
CHAPTER 95. MANUFACTURER INSTALLED EQUIPMENT
§ 95.3. Lights for boats.
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(e) Boat at anchor. [One all-around white light is needed--Appendix A, Figure 7E. Anchor lights are not required when anchored in special anchorage areas. Boats less than 7 meters (23 feet) in length are required to display anchor lights when anchored in or near a channel, when in an anchorage not designated as a special anchorage area, or where other vessels normally navigate.]
(1) A boat must display anchor lights when it is anchored where other vessels normally navigate. See Appendix A, Figure 7E.
(2) Exception: Anchor lights are not required on boats anchored in special anchorage areas.
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CHAPTER 97. OPERATOR PROVIDED EQUIPMENT
§ 97.1. Personal flotation devices.
(a) A person may not use a [recreational vessel] boat unless at least one personal flotation device (PFD) of the following types is on board for each person:
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(b) A person may not use a [recreational vessel] boat 16 or more feet in length unless one Type IV PFD is on board in addition to the total number of PFDs required in subsection (a). Canoes and kayaks 16 feet in length and over are exempted from the requirements for carriage of the additional Type IV PFD.
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CHAPTER 109. SPECIALTY BOATS AND WATERSKIING ACTIVITIES
§ 109.3. Personal watercraft.
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(g) The operator of a personal watercraft with a capacity of two or less persons as determined by the manufacturer, may not tow waterskiers or engage in waterskiing or similar activities while operating a personal watercraft. Other personal watercraft may tow no more than one skier.
[(h) A person 15 years of age or younger may not operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this Commonwealth, except a person 12 to 15 years of age may operate a personal watercraft if there is a person at least 18 years of age on board the personal watercraft or if the person operating the personal watercraft has obtained a boating safety certificate issued or recognized by the Commission and there are no passengers on board the personal watercraft.]
CHAPTER 113. AIDS TO NAVIGATION AND OBSTRUCTIONS TO NAVIGATION
§ 113.1. General.
(a) [The Uniform State Waterway Marking System is the system whereby persons, including State and local governments, may place private aids to navigation, including regulatory markers, in waters of this Commonwealth, including navigable waters of the United States not marked with aids by the Federal government.] The Coast Guard administers the United States Aids to Navigation System (33 CFR Part 62 (relating to United States Aids to Navigation System)). The System consists of Federal aids to navigation operated by the Coast Guard, aids to navigation operated by other armed services and private aids to navigation operated by other persons. This System is adopted by the Commission for use in this Commonwealth and is administered on waters not marked by the Coast Guard.
(b) [The Uniform State Waterway System consists of the following:
(1) A system of regulatory markers that indicates to a watercraft operator the existence of dangerous areas, restricted and controlled areas or that provides general information and directions.
(2) A system of aids to navigation to mark channels and obstructions.
(3) A distinctive color scheme for mooring buoys.
(c)] An aid to navigation is a device external to a vessel intended to assist a boater in determining position[,] or safe course, or warn of dangers or obstructions to navigation.
[(d) State Aids to Navigation are private aids to navigation placed in State waters that are owned by State, political subdivisions, individuals, corporations or organizations.]
§ 113.2. Prohibited acts.
(a) Aids, other than those placed by the United States government, may not be placed on or along waters of this Commonwealth unless authorized by the Commission under § 113.4 (relating to permits). [Aids authorized shall conform fully with the Uniform State Waterway Marking System.]
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(d) A person may not place an aid to navigation that is incompatible with the United States Aids to Navigation System.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 98-484. Filed for public inspection March 27, 1998, 9:00 a.m.]
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