Reshaping the RegulatoryFramework Virgil Chambers National Safe Boating Council
The Regulatory Framework can be defined as a set of rules and mandates intended toeducate and protect the boating public andset requirements for equipment operations.
Regulatory framework for recreationalboating and boaters has evolved… Background/ Federal Government Boating Safety Act of 1971 USCG Boating Safety Detachments assisted states Other Federal models created such as numbering system; HINs; etc. Provided federal funding mechanism to support state level program development and as an incentive for compliance.
State and volunteer programsevolved and matured… Individual state programs were developed, shared with others, further refined. NASBLA matured to develop model acts and drive uniform laws and enforcement. Education initiatives evolved from volunteer efforts to state-driven initiatives for the masses. Evolution of professionally trained marine law enforcement officers and marine accident investigators.
Personal Observation #1“We have reached a level that suggests we have picked the low hanging fruit. We have achieved the logical successes, and we have reached a level of professional program management and programming that, while not funded to the level we would all like to see, is sustainable.”
Look at 3 parts of currentcondition: Please consider impacts on participation, boaters, enforcement, management, planning and the industry •Education mandates •PFD Requirements •Numerous other restrictions
Education Mandates Education Requirements in 41 states and territories Nationwide, boaters support more than oppose mandatory boater licensing
PFD Requirements Nearly every state has some level of PFD wearage requirement Significant research: Canadian Study on PFD wearage (2003) PFD Wear Rate Study (1999)
Other RestrictionsAlcohol Lawsdebated, created, and enforced
Other RestrictionsSpeed and proximity Waterways Managed and zoned Laws created and enforced
Other RestrictionsUser Conflicts Waterways Managed and zoned Laws created and enforced
Personal Observation #2 “Overall, safety issues are being successfully addressed through mix of education, enforcement, engineering, and legislation. Boaters overall accept these regulations to address obvious safety concerns.”
Personal Observation #3 “The next levels of regulation may well put issues of quality of experience head to head with safety concerns.”
Discussion Questions• No one can argue that wearing life jackets will reduce boater fatalities, however how long will it take society in the U.S. to accept this? What state will be the first to successfully legislate, regulate and enforce a comprehensive life jacket mandatory wear law?
Points to Ponder…. The mandatory boating safety education debate was hot and heated in the early 1980’s before Maryland led the way with this revolutionary piece of legislation. Now in 41 states and territories, it is the norm, one way they approach the issue of modifying behavior.
Never say never… In the early 1980’s, a prominent USCG Admiral attending the National Boating Education Seminar stated that alcohol and boating were inherently joined activities that should not be separated. Many distinguished leaders in boating safety felt the topic of regulating alcohol use while operating was off limits to discussion. It would be inconceivable for those statements to be made today.
Envision in 10-20 years …. It is conceivable to envision required life jacket wearage for all boaters. It is conceivable to envision on-water skills operator testing and licensing, required education for non-motorized craft, and accurate speed limit enforcement on waterways.
Bottom line… What is the new target for program success? How do we measure it? Is it zero deaths? Is it zero accidents? Is it a high quality of experience and zero conflicts? Will the boating public buy into this measure and support it?
Under what framework will the next series of regulations be built?
Framework… Mustestablish a level of TRUST & CREDIBILITY between the public, the professional staffs of agencies, and the political decision-makers....
Framework… Boating leadership must develop and implement strategies through the art of Consent-Building and other skills to become effective at implementing even the most controversial projects, programs, plans and proposals. Consent building is the art and science of getting your mission accomplished; especially when that mission is difficult and controversial.
Accomplish this through Partnershipsand Strategic Alliances with: Industry Boating Public Government (all levels) Academic (research) Legislative NGOs Volunteers General Public
Final thought… How do you measure the negative impact of restricting personal freedom? This is the tough question which must be addressed as we build the next level of regulatory framework for recreational boating.