New Boating Regulations

Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Increase Boating Safety
New Laws will Improve Safety and Education in Illinois’ Waterways

Hopefully these new regulations will go a long way to keep the drunks off  Lake Michigan!

Fishing is an ancient practice. It dates back nearly 10,000 years. A number of various techniques and traditions have been used during fishing’s progression. Modern technological developments have changed the way people fish, but many of the same rules, regulations, and social norms involving fishing remain.

Always practice good stewardship of our waterways when you are fishing. Remember that these waterways were around thousands of years before you and will remain long after we are gone. You can make a conscious decision to leave the areas in which people fish in better condition than when you found it. Take care of our lakes, rivers, and other waterways so that others will enjoy these areas for years to come. Practicing certain behaviors will ensure that you are taking good care of the places where people fish.

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to help improve safety on Illinois’ waterways. The three new laws expand boating safety education, improve safety and awareness of water skiers and tubers and increase penalties for those who operate watercraft under the influence. Today’s bill signings, which took place at Chicago’s 31st Street Harbor, are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to make outdoor recreation safe and enjoyable for everyone.“Over this Fourth of July weekend, it’s important that all residents stay safe while celebrating, especially out on Illinois’ waterways,” Governor Quinn said. “While boating is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, everyone has to take precautions and follow the rules to keep drivers and passengers out of harm’s way. These new laws will help make Illinois’ lakes and rivers safer and more enjoyable for all.”

State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) and State Representative Kelly Burke (D-Evergreen Park) sponsored all three pieces of legislation. All three news laws are effective Jan. 1, 2015.

Senate Bill 3434 allows for the seizure of a watercraft used in the commission of certain offenses related to operating under the influence. The new rules bring penalties for boating under the influence more in line with those for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

“When people continue to drink and drive after they’ve been convicted of crimes relating to DUIs, sheriffs can seize their cars,” Senator Morrison said. “Boats are every bit as dangerous as cars, and boat operators should be held to the same standard as drivers.”

Senate Bill 3433 requires all persons born after Jan. 1, 1998 to take and pass a boating safety course validated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and hold a valid boating safety certificate before they can operate a motorboat with an engine over 10 horsepower.

“I have learned of many tragic losses of life due to boating accidents which could have been avoided with better education for our boaters,” Representative Burke said. “Boating is a great recreational activity which I hope more people will participate in, but there are risks to everyone involved, novice and experts alike. This new law will ensure all boaters have as much experience and education as possible when enjoying themselves on our state’s waterways.”

Governor Quinn also signed Senate Bill 2731, which mandates that the operator of any watercraft that is towing a person, such as a water skier or tuber, must display a bright orange flag measuring not less than 12 inches per side. The flag must be displayed from the time the person to be towed leaves the boat until that person returns to the boat at the conclusion of the activity.

So far in 2014, there have been 16 reported boating fatalities on Illinois waterways. Increased boating safety education and responsible boating practices may have prevented many of these fatalities.

Governor Quinn has long been a supporter of the safe enjoyment of the Illinois outdoors. Last year he signed legislation strengthening the state’s Boat Registration and Safety Act to increase boating safety. Further, he signed legislation cracking down on those who boat while under the influence of alcohol by requiring a chemical test for drugs or alcohol where an injury is involved and imposing stiffer penalties.

Never litter when you are fishing. Always bring a trash bag or other receptacle to use for the collection of your trash. You can easily deposit it in a nearby trash receptacle. Dump your refuse in properly assigned dumping stations instead of tossing it in the water. You do not need to spend much time figuring out the many ways in which this hurts the environment.

As you fish, always use the correct type of bait and fishing gear. Certain areas allow for certain bait and gear. You will also encounter limits on the number, size, and kind of fish that you can keep. Become familiar with what these limits are and pay attention to them. Do not wait until you are at your fishing spot to search for what is allowed and what is not. Check with your destination before you head out on your fishing trip to see what the local regulations allow. If you plan on using a boat while fishing, research to see what kinds of watercraft are allowed where you are going to fish.

Every fishing location is different, so pay special attention to local procedures and cautions. This also applies when you decide to clean your boat after you leave the water. You do not want to spread non-native species to another body of water.

Finally, never fish where it is not permitted. There is always a reason why it is illegal. Some reasons include the protection of certain wildlife, the proper care of vegetation, and the safety of you and others who want to fish.

You should also follow a number of cautionary behaviors to ensure your safety. As with all forms of hunting, safety is first. If you will be using a boat while you fish, always wear your life jacket. Make sure that your passengers wear their life jackets, as well.

Be very careful when baiting and removing hooks. Make sure that you never fish on unauthorized waterways. Follow the posted speed limits and wake warnings that accompany the use of a boat. Bring with you all relevant safety items, such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cell phone.

Fishing continues to be a favorite pastime. 2013 saw nearly 22% of the U.S. population over the age of 16 spend 16 days a year fishing.   Be responsible and courteous of others and your environment.


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