RULES AND REGULATIONS
FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[58 PA. CODE CHS. 91, 95, 97, 109 AND 113]
[28 Pa.B. 4789]
The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) by this order amends 58 Pa. Code Chapters 91, 95, 97, 109 and 113. The Commission is publishing these amendments under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to Fish and Boat Code) (code). The amendments concern boating.
A. Effective Date
These amendments will go into effect upon publication of this order adopting these amendments.
B. Contact Person
For further information on the amendments, contact Laurie E. Shepler, Assistant Counsel, (717) 657-4546, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000. This final rulemaking is available electronically through the Commission's Web site at http://www.fish.state.pa.us.
C. Statutory Authority
These amendments are published under the statutory authority of section 5123 of the code (relating to general boating regulations).
D. Purpose and Background
The amendments are designed to update, modify and improve Commission regulations pertaining to boating. The specific purpose of the amendments is described in more detail under the summary of changes. Prior to consideration by the Commission on final rulemaking, the Commission's Boating Advisory Board considered the proposed amendments and recommended adoption by the Commission.
E. Summary of Changes
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 amended 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 requirements 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 or 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 proposed to amend § 91.4 and to delete § 109.3(h) in its entirety. On final rulemaking, the Commission, in the interest of clarity, struck the proposed text of § 91.4 in the notice of proposed rulemaking and substituted it with the text to read as set forth in Annex A. The Commission also deleted § 109.3(h) in its entirety, as proposed.
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 (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 the NASBLA and recognized by the United States Coast Guard (Guard). The Commission therefore proposed to amend this section 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 Squadrons in another state or province. On final rulemaking, the Commission determined that in addition to accepting certificates issued by the Auxiliary and the Squadrons, the Commission should accept certificates from private organizations such as the American Sailing Association that sponsors and teaches a Nationally known sailing school. Certificates issued by private companies or Internet programs will not be accepted. The Commission adopted the amendment to read as set forth in Annex A.
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 amended this regulation to clarify that an anchor light is required on all boats at all times on most waters of this Commonwealth.
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 do not have to have PFDs. The Commission therefore amended 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, the skier 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 amended 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 Coast Guard 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 USCG 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 USCG has proposed rules that would eliminate the USWMS. The Commission therefore amended Chapter 113 to reflect the current practice.
The amendments will not increase paperwork and will not create new paperwork requirements.
G. Fiscal Impact
The amendments will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The amendments will impose no new costs on the private sector or the general public.
H. Public Involvement
A notice of proposed rulemaking containing the proposed amendments was published at 28 Pa.B. 1533 (March 28, 1998). The Commission did not receive any public comments regarding the proposed amendments.
The Commission finds that:
(1) Public notice of intention to adopt the amendments adopted by this order has been given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202) and the regulations promulgated thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.
(2) A public comment period was provided, and the Commission did not receive any comments.
(3) The adoption of the amendments of the Commission in the manner provided in this order is necessary and appropriate for administration and enforcement of the authorizing statutes.
The Commission, acting under the authorizing statutes, orders that:
(a) The regulations of the Commission, 58 Pa. Code Chapters 91, 95, 97, 109 and 113, are amended by amending §§ 91.2, 95.3, 97.1, 109.3, 113.1 and 113.2 to read as set forth at 28 Pa.B. 1533, and by amending §§ 91.4 and 91.6 to read as set forth in Annex A.
(b) The Executive Director will submit this order, 28 Pa.B. 1533 and Annex A to the Office of Attorney General for approval as to legality as required by law.
(c) The Executive Director shall certify this order, 28 Pa.B. 1533 and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.
(d) This order shall take effect immediately upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
PETER A. COLANGELO,
Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 48A-77 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.
TITLE 58. RECREATION
PART II. FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
Subpart C. BOATING
CHAPTER 91. GENERAL PROVISIONS
§ 91.4. Age of operator.
(a) The following age restrictions apply to the operation of a motorboat propelled by a motor greater than 10 horsepower (other than personal watercraft):
(1) A person 11 years of age or younger may not operate such a watercraft unless at least one person 16 years of age or older is present onboard.
(2) A person 12 through 15 years of age may not operate such a watercraft unless the person has obtained and has in his possession a Boating Safety Education Certificate or at least one person 16 years of age or older is present onboard.
(b) The following age restrictions apply to the operation of personal watercraft:
(1) A person 11 years of age or younger may not operate a personal watercraft.
(2) A person 12 through 15 years of age may not operate a personal watercraft unless he has obtained and has in his possession a Boating Safety Education Certificate.
(3) A person 12 through 15 years of age may not operate a personal watercraft if there are any passengers onboard 15 years of age or younger.
§ 91.6. Certificates.
(a) A certificate, license or other document required under this subpart or the code shall be carried when the boat is in operation and shall be carried so that it can be handed to an officer authorized to enforce this subject.
(b) A Boating Safety Education Certificate is one issued to an individual by one of the following:
(1) The Commission or 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 or other organizations approved by the Executive Director in another state or province for successful completion of a boating safety education program approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 98-1550. Filed for public inspection September 25, 1998, 9:00 a.m.]
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