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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 96-2140


[58 PA. CODE CHS. 91, 97, 99, 111 AND 115]


[26 Pa.B. 6091]

   The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapters 91, 97, 99, 111 and 115. 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 relate with boating.

A.  Effective Date

   These proposed amendments will, if approved on final rulemaking, go into effect on January 1, 1997, or upon publication of an order adopting these amendments, whichever comes later.

B.  Contact Person

   For further information on the proposed changes, contact Dennis Guise, Chief Counsel, (717) 657-4525, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000.

C.  Statutory Authority

   These proposed amendments are published under the statutory authority of sections 5123 and 5124 of the code (relating to general boating regulations; and particular areas of water).

D.  Purpose and Background

   The proposed amendments are designed to update, modify and improve Commission regulations on boating. The specific purpose for the various amendments is described in more detail under the summary of proposal.

E.  Summary of Proposal

   1) Section 91.2(b) (relating to definitions). The regulations require that all boats display running lights (red/green side lights and a white stern light) while underway at night and during periods of limited visibility. Boats at anchor are required to display an anchor light (an all around white light). There appears to be some confusion by the public concerning when a boat is underway and when it is not. The Commission proposes to add a definition of ''underway,'' as set forth in the Navigation Rules published by the United States Coast Guard.

   2)  Section 91.5 (relating to parental and boat owner responsibility). The regulations currently place requirements on young boaters, including the prohibition against the operation of boats powered by motors in excess of 10 horsepower. See § 91.4 (relating to age of operator). Enforcement generally is not an issue, but in certain instances where more than a warning is needed, an enforcement officer's only recourse is to issue a citation to the youthful operator. In many cases where a law enforcement response in excess of a warning is required, it would be preferable to proceed against the adult parent or guardian or boat owner who allowed the child to violate the regulation. This change would place the responsibility on the owner of the boat or the parent or guardian to assure compliance with the regulations.

   3)  Section 91.6 (relating to certificates). Certain regulations, for example § 91.4(b), require that certain boat operators obtain Boating Safety Certificates before operating a motorboat. When adopted, the intent of the regulations was to ensure that operators have sufficient knowledge to operate a boat. While implied, the regulations do not require that operators carry this certificate or show it to a law enforcement officer. This creates somewhat of a problem in that operators can state that they have a certificate but the officer cannot demand proof. The Commission proposes to add a new section that would place a general requirement that any certificate required by the code be carried and produced when requested by an enforcement officer.

   4)  Section 97.1(h) and (i) (relating to personal flotation devices). The term ''open waters'' as used in subsection (h) is not defined or described anywhere in the regulations. Nor is the term defined in the Navigation Rules or in Chapman's Piloting. Some individuals have interpreted this term as referring only to larger waters, such as Lake Erie, Raystown or other big lakes. So that this subsection is not misinterpreted, the Commission proposes to amend the regulation to delete the phrase ''on open waters.'' The Commission also proposes to add language to subsection (h) that would allow a law enforcement officer to proceed against the operator of a boat who does not cause a child 12 years of age or younger to wear a personal flotation device as required by this section. Although enforcement generally is not an issue, there are certain instances where more than a warning is needed and an enforcement officer's issuance of a citation to the child is not desirable. In addition, the Commission proposes to delete subsection (i) because on May 1, 1996, its provisions became obsolete.

   5)  Section 99.1(b) (relating to boats requiring capacity plates). The Commission has received numerous telephone calls questioning the requirement for a capacity plate on pontoon boats. To eliminate any confusion that a pontoon boat does not require a capacity plate, the Commission proposes to amend this section to exempt specifically pontoon boats.

   6)  Section 111.31(c) (relating to Huntingdon County). Perez Lake, located in Barree Township, Huntingdon County, is owned and operated by Penn State University and is classified as an approved trout water. The lake is also open to public fishing. The University has established its own property regulations on Perez Lake. One of the University regulations is that only nonpowered and electric-powered boats are permitted on the lake. Because this regulation is solely a University property regulation, the Commission's enforcement officers cannot enforce it under the code. The Commission proposes to amend this section to add a new subsection that prohibits the operation of boats powered by internal combustion motors on Perez Lake.

   7)  Section 115.11 (relating to personal flotation devices). The current regulations permit the carriage and use of Type I and Type II personal flotation devices (PFDs) on passenger carrying vessels. This restriction is based on the better performance characteristics of these devices. Other generally approved PFDs have less buoyancy and may not perform as well in certain circumstances. The problem is that Type I and II PFDs are also more uncomfortable to wear. The Commission has been encouraging boaters to wear PFDs. Type III and V PFDs are much more wearable and would be a better choice than Type I and Type II devices on this Commonwealth's inland waters yet cannot be used on passenger for hire boats. The Commission therefore proposes that the regulation be amended to allow the use of Type III and Type V PFDs on boats carrying passengers for hire.

F.  Paperwork

   The proposed amendments will not increase paperwork and will create no new paperwork requirements.

G.  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

Executive Director

   Fiscal Note:  48A-59. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

Annex A



Subpart C.  BOATING


§ 91.2.  Definitions.

   (a)  * * *

   (b)  The term ''underway'' means that a vessel is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.

§ 91.5.  Parental and boat owner responsibility.

   (a)  It is unlawful for the owner of a boat knowingly to allow or permit a child 17 years of age or younger to operate a watercraft in violation of this subpart.

   (b)  It is unlawful for a parent or guardian of a child 17 years of age or younger knowingly to allow or permit the child to operate a watercraft in violation of this subpart.

§ 91.6.  Certificates.

   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 subpart.


§ 97.1  Personal flotation devices.

*      *      *      *      *

   (h)  Children 12 years of age and younger shall wear an approved Type I, II, III or V PFD while underway [on open waters] on any boat 20['] feet or less in length and all canoes and kayaks. The operator of the watercraft violates this subsection if he does not cause a child 12 years of age or younger to wear a PFD as required by this subsection.

   [(i)  Exemptions to this section are as follows:

   (1)  Prior to May 1, 1995, a Type IV PFD may be carried in lieu of any Type PFD required under subsection (a) for each person on a boat which is less than 16 feet in length.

   (2)  Prior to May 1, 1996, a Type IV PFD may be carried in lieu of any Type PFD required under subsection (a) for each person on the boat if the boat is:

   (i)  Leased or rented to another for the latter's pleasure as part of a livery or rental business.

   (ii)  Manually propelled.]


§ 99.1.  Boats requiring capacity plates.

*      *      *      *      *

   (b)  [Canoes.] Pontoon boats, canoes, sailboats, kayaks, inflatables, hydroplanes, personal watercraft and boats considered by the Commission to be of unusual or unique design are exempt from this chapter.

*      *      *      *      *


§ 111.31.  Huntingdon County.

*      *      *      *      *

   (c)  Perez Lake. The operation of boats powered by internal combustion motors is prohibited.


§ 115.11.  Personal flotation devices.

   It is unlawful to operate a boat carrying passengers for hire unless it carries sufficient, serviceable [Type I or Type II] Type I, II, III or V personal flotation devices to provide one for the maximum number of passengers and crew members indicated on the certificate. It is unlawful to operate a boat carrying passengers for hire unless it carries an additional number of personal flotation devices suitable for children equal to at least 10% of the maximum capacity of the boat. If more than 10% of the passengers are children, additional personal flotation devices sized for children are required.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 96-2140. Filed for public inspection December 20, 1996, 9:00 a.m.]

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