Over Memorial Day weekend, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) say they had one main objective: to keep boaters safe. The holiday marks the unofficial beginning of summer and is considered one of the biggest boating holidays of the year in the Sunshine State. By partnering with other law enforcement agencies, FWC officers were proactive in getting boating safety messaging out to the public before the weekend and were especially proactive on their lookouts for reckless or impaired vessel operators — and it appears it may have paid off.
According to a release from FWC on June 5, between May 27 and 29, FWC officers removed approximately 100 unsafe and impaired vessel operators across the state of Florida for boating under the influence and responded to over 30 boating accidents.
Fortunately, there were zero fatalities reported during this time.
“I credit the visibility and the hard work of our officers and partner agencies educating the public, removing impaired boaters from behind the wheel, and responding quickly to accidents. Nothing would make me happier than to report the number zero every year,” said Lt. Col. Brian Smith, Acting Director of the FWC Division of Law Enforcement.
“Florida is considered the boating and fishing capital of the world for good reason. Operating a vessel while impaired not only puts yourself and everyone on board in danger but also everyone else around you trying to enjoy a great weekend on the water.”
The release also states that FWC officers went into the busy holiday with a laser focus on boating safety enforcement, and the amount of citations issued appears to reflect that. Statewide, officers issued more than 4,000 warnings, and nearly 900 citations for boating violations, responding to more than 40 emergency calls for assistance with search and rescue.
The FWC reminds all boaters to enjoy time with friends and family but to do so safely and not forget to designate a sober operator before departing from the dock.
For more information about boating safety, visit MyFWC.com/Boating and select “Boater Education” then “Boating Safety.”
To report dangerous boating activity the public can submit anonymous tips by texting Tip411 (847411) with the keyword “FWC” followed by the location and any information about the violation or call 888-404-FWCC (3922). Additionally, there is an easy-to-use downloadable iPhone or Android app; search “FWC Wildlife Alert" on your corresponding app store.
Article by Rachael Volpe