Contact: Sr. Cpl. Carl Winckoski, Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement, 302-739-9913 or 302-542-2115, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
DNREC Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Blotter: June 24-30
Reminder for week: Safe boating practices especially important on busy holiday weekends
DOVER (July 3, 2014) – To achieve public compliance through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, DNREC Natural Resources Police, Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Agents between June 24-30 made 2,265 contacts with anglers, boaters and the general public, including 429 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Agents responded to 71 complaints and issued 137 citations. This week, with an expanded Fish and Wildlife Enforcement presence continuing to be deployed as a deterrent, no citations were issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area and associated recreational trail currently under construction.
From June 27 through 29, Fish and Wildlife Agents statewide participated in Operation Dry Water, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ initiative against alcohol-impaired boating. Increased boating safety patrols made 1,177 contacts with boat operators and passengers and conducted 322 boardings while performing standard vessel safety checks and encouraging safe boating practices both in operations and required safety equipment. Thirty-five citations and numerous verbal and written warnings for violations of boating regulations were issued during the weekend, including:
· On June 28, Ruben Olivera, 51, of Salem, NJ, was arrested and charged with OUI and operating a motor vessel with an expired registration on the C&D Canal. Olivera was released with a summons to appear in court at a later date.
Another notable boating incident was:
· On June 29, agents responded to a report of a 17-foot recreational fishing boat taking on water off Collins Beach northeast of Smyrna. The boat’s three occupants had launched the vessel from Augustine Beach earlier that morning and were heading back due to wind and wave conditions when a wave swamped the stern. The three Newark men, two of whom were wearing life jackets, stayed in the water with their vessel and drifted to shore. The accident remains under investigation, with no injuries reported and no charges filed at this time. The vessel was recovered.
Citations issued by violation type included the following, with the number of charges in parentheses:
Wildlife Conservation: Operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area (1), Kent County.
Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Fishing without a license (8), New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties; Improperly marked recreational crab pot (1), Kent County; Possession of undersized blue crabs (7), over the limit of recreational crab pots (1), possession of undersized summer flounder (2), possession of illegally taken conch (1), and oystering in a prohibited area (1), Sussex County.
Commercial: No ghost panel on commercial fish pots (50), improperly marked commercial fish pots (50), and illegally potting for finfish within the boundaries of an artificial reef (1), Sussex County. (For more on this case, click Commercial waterman fined for fishing violations.)
Boating Safety: Operating a motor vessel with an expired registration (4), New Castle and Sussex counties; Operating a motor vessel under the influence (OUI) of alcohol (1), New Castle County; Operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets (2), no life jacket on child age 12 or younger as required by law (2), negligent operation of a personal watercraft/jet ski (1), no boating safety certificate (1), allowing use of a non-compliant vessel (1), towing a water skier without required observer (1), and no fire extinguisher/required safety equipment (1), Sussex County.
Fish and Wildlife Enforcement News and Training
· On June 26, Agent Dan Carrow, Agent Chelsea Allen and Seasonal Agent Brooke Africa provided 11 day campers and five staff members from Brandywine Creek State Park with an educational tour of the Delaware River in the area of Delaware City, aboard two DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement patrol vessels. Agent Carrow has been coordinating this annual event for that past several years.
Are you AWARE?
For the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section reminds boaters that drinking and boating don’t mix – and that boat operators found to have blood alcohol levels of .08 or higher will face charges for operating under the influence (OUI) – putting themselves, their passengers and other boaters at risk.
“Environmental stressors aboard a boat such as constant motion, heat, sun glare and dehydration enhance the effects of any amount of alcohol. Because of this, we strongly recommend that boat operators not consume alcohol. We also encourage having a non-drinking designated boat operator,” said Sr. Cpl. Carl Winckoski of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement, adding that marine patrols will be increased during the holiday weekend to ensure safe boating and public safety.
Boaters also are reminded that in Delaware, life jackets are the law – and the law requires that owners/operators of recreational vessels carry one readily accessible life jacket for each person aboard, and that children age 12 and younger wear a life jacket while underway in any vessel on Delaware waters. (Minimum fine for violations: $76.50.)
“Vessel operators are responsible to make sure that children aboard their boat are wearing life jackets – and they can set the example by also wearing one,” Sr. Cpl. Winckoski said. “Although the law does not require ages 13 and older to wear a life jacket, we strongly recommend life jacket use by everyone aboard a vessel in Delaware waters, especially anyone with limited swimming skills. It’s a smart choice that can prevent an unnecessary tragedy.”
Other tips for recreational boaters to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend include:
· Exercise patience and courtesy at crowded boat ramps and docks.
· Observe all “slow - no wake” areas.
· Maintain a lookout for other vessels and keep a safe distance away.
· Avoid traveling at unsafe speeds, including congested areas.
· Check navigation lights and make sure to turn them on when operating at night.
· Carry your boating safety certificate, and required safety equipment including enough life jackets for everyone aboard, a fire extinguisher, and a whistle.
· If you fall overboard or capsize, stay with your boat for a better chance of being found sooner.
· Keep your cell phone in a secure pocket and sealed in a plastic bag.
· Carry a personal position locator beacon, a personal emergency locator light and/or flares, and a whistle to make noise and attract the attention of rescuers.
· File a “float plan” with a responsible friend or family member. Include a description of your boat, when you plan to head out, who is going with you, where you plan to go and when you plan to return.
· Paddle boards are considered vessels, and passengers are required to have a life jacket on board and carry a whistle or other sound producing device. If out after sunset, a flashlight is also required.
· Jet ski/personal watercraft operators and passengers are required to wear life jackets at all times while underway.
· It is illegal for youth under the age of 14 to operate jet skis or personal watercraft.
For more information on boating safety, pick up a copy of the Handbook of Delaware Boating Laws and Responsibilities at the DNREC licensing desk, or visit Delaware Boating Safety on the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife website. For more on Delaware’s boating laws, please visit Boating Regulations.
The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish and wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Hunting/Pages/OpGameTheft.aspx. Vol. 44, No. 231