FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[58 PA. CODE CH. 91]
Boating; General Provisions
[34 Pa.B. 4151]
The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapter 91 (relating to general provisions). The Commission is publishing this proposed rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Fish and Boat Code) (code). The proposed amendment relates to the age of operation for personal watercraft (PWC) and boats propelled by motors in excess of 25 horsepower.
A. Effective Date
The proposed rulemaking, if approved on final-form, will go into effect on January 1, 2005.
B. Contact Person
For further information on the proposed rulemaking, contact Laurie E. Shepler, Esq., P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, (717) 705-7815. This proposed rulemaking is available on the Commission's website: www. fish.state.pa.us.
C. Statutory Authority
The proposed amendment to § 91.4 (relating to age of operator) is published under the statutory authority of section 5123 of the code (relating to general boating regulations). A person violating this section commits a summary offense of the third degree for which a $50 fine is imposed.
D. Purpose and Background
The proposed rulemaking is designed to update, modify and improve the Commission's boating regulations. The specific purpose of the proposed rulemaking is described in more detail under the summary of proposal. The Commission's Boating Advisory Board (Board) considered the proposed amendment to § 91.4 and recommended that the Commission publish a notice of proposed rulemaking containing the proposed amendment. The Board further recommended that the Commission seek the input of the Governor's Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation.
E. Summary of Proposal
The Commission previously adopted limitations on the age of operation to address concerns for the safety of young operators of larger boats and PWC and those that boat around them. At the time the regulation was adopted, 10 horsepower was considered to be a satisfactory horsepower limitation. Youthful operators could operate larger boats (that is, boats with motors greater than 10 horsepower) after obtaining a Boating Safety Education Certificate (certificate) or if they had an older operator onboard. A recent amendment to section 5103 of the code (relating to boating education) that provides for mandatory boating education increased the minimum horsepower to 25. Specifically, this section provides that any person born on or after January 1, 1982, shall not operate a motorboat greater than 25 horsepower without first obtaining a certificate. To be consistent with the code and to eliminate some complexity in the regulations, the Commission proposes to amend § 91.4.
Specifically, the Commission proposes to simplify the existing regulation and make it consistent with provisions of the mandatory boating safety education law. The Commission also proposes to eliminate the distinction between PWC and other motorboat operation by applying the same standards to both. A description of the major proposed amendments follows.
Subsection (a). The current regulation prohibits operation by children 11 years of age or younger of boats powered by motors greater than 10 horsepower. The code, on the other hand, requires a certificate for operators of boats powered by motors in excess of 25 horsepower. Under the proposed amendment, operators 11 years of age or younger would not be permitted to operate PWC and other boats with motors greater than 25 horsepower.
Subsection (b). Subsection (b) is proposed to be deleted. The current regulation provides that a person 12--15 years of age may not operate a boat propelled by a motor greater than 10 horsepower unless the person has obtained and possesses a certificate or at least one person 16 years of age or older is onboard. Because all operators in the 12--15 years of age group are required by the law to possess a certificate, the first part of this subsection is no longer necessary and may be removed. The second part of the subsection also should be removed because it is no longer consistent with the code to allow operation by someone less than 16 years of age who does not have a certificate as long as another person 16 years of age or older is onboard.
Old subsection (c)/new subsection (b). No change at this time. However, the Commission proposes that after January 1, 2008, a person 15 years of age or younger may not operate a PWC. Therefore, if the Commission adopts the amendment on final-form rulemaking, this subsection will have to be removed at a later date.
Subsection (c). This proposed rulemaking prohibits the operation of PWC by anyone 15 years of age or younger effective January 1, 2008.
The Commission proposes that § 91.4 be amended to read as set forth in Annex A.
The proposed rulemaking will not increase paperwork and will create no new paperwork requirements.
G. Fiscal Impact
The proposed rulemaking will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The proposed rulemaking 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 rulemaking 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 to rapfbcregs@ state.pa.us. A subject heading of the proposal and a return name and address must be included in each transmission. In addition, electronic comments must be contained in the text of the transmission, not in an attachment. If an acknowledgment of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt.
DOUGLAS J. AUSTEN, Ph.D.,
Fiscal Note: 48A-159. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.
TITLE 58. RECREATION
PART II. FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
Subpart C. BOATING
CHAPTER 91. GENERAL PROVISIONS
§ 91.4. Age of operator.
(a) A person 11 years of age or younger may not operate a personal watercraft or a boat propelled by a motor greater than  25 horsepower.
(b) [A person 12 through 15 years of age may not operate a boat propelled by a motor greater than 10 horsepower 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.
(c)] 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.
(c) Effective January 1, 2008, a person 15 years of age or younger may not operate a personal watercraft.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 04-1441. Filed for public inspection August 6, 2004, 9:00 a.m.]
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