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News Releases
Marine Board Meeting Virtually January 25, 26 - 01/18/22

The Oregon State Marine Board will hold a work session on January 25, beginning at 1:00 pm, to discuss boating safety, and will hold their quarterly Board meeting on January 26, beginning at 8:30 am. Both the work session and Board meeting will be held virtually.

Agenda items include:

  • Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program Update
  • Small Grant Funding. Action: Board Approval
  • Request Regarding Foam Encapsulation Rules. Action: Consider the Possibility of Opening Rulemaking
  • Lower Willamette River Rules Evaluation, Year Two
  • Life Jacket Legislative Concept. Action: Board Direction
  • Possible Rulemaking via Petition to Amend OAR 250-010-0121, Muffling Devices. Action: Consider the Possibility of Opening Rulemaking
  • Consideration for Rulemaking OAR 250-021-0010, Applies statewide rules for personal watercraft to other small inboard jet pump powered boats. Action: Option to Adopt Rules

Written public comment will be accepted until 5:00 pm on January 21, 2022 and can be emailed to .cooper@boat.oregon.gov">jennifer.cooper@boat.oregon.gov or by U.S. Mail to Oregon State Marine Board, Attn: Jennifer Cooper, 435 Commercial St NE Ste 400 Salem, OR 97301. Verbal comments will be accepted during the public comment portion at the beginning of the virtual meeting. If you would like to provide oral testimony during the meeting, register with Jennifer Cooper, .cooper@boat.oregon.gov">jennifer.cooper@boat.oregon.gov, no later than January 21 at 5:00 pm.

To view the agenda, Board materials, and for a link to the meeting live stream, visit

https://www.oregon.gov/osmb/info/Pages/Board-and-Public-Meetings.aspx. Meetings are conducted using Microsoft Teams and viewing may require the installation of a free Teams app for mobile devices.

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Quagga mussel motorboat propeller contamination
Quagga mussel motorboat propeller contamination
New Program Aims to Prevent Aquatic Invasive Species Spread (Photo) - 01/11/22

The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) initiated a new program to prevent delays during the transport of watercraft destined for the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The program, “Call Before You Haul,” provides a toll-free phone number boat transporters can call prior to transporting watercraft from outside the Pacific Northwest to one of the aforementioned states. The program is currently being piloted in 10 states and is intended to be expanded to all states in 2022.

By calling the toll-free number, 1-844-311-4873, prior to hauling, and providing some basic information about the watercraft being transported, the destination state representative will reach out to boat transporters and provide them with information to facilitate and expedite the watercraft inspection process, and if needed, decontaminate. Proactively arranging watercraft inspections can prevent costly and timely delays at inspection stations, or if boat transporters are intercepted hauling an infested vessel by law enforcement. All four states are communicating with one another and working with one of the four states will expedite transport across two or more Pacific Northwest states.

All Pacific Northwest states have regulations that make it illegal to transport aquatic invasive species (dead or alive) within their respective states, including penalties up to, and including, a no bond felony. Much of the ongoing spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) to inland waters throughout North America can be attributed to the overland movement of watercraft that can be towed on trailers or atop vehicles. Invasive species can be carried in bilge water, live wells, and bait buckets as well as on boat and motor exteriors and trailers. Every time a boat is transported overland after use in an infested waterway, there is the possibility that it will transfer aquatic invasive species to uninfested waterways. 

In addition to reaching out to boat transport companies, PSMFC is working directly with Departments of Transportation in 10 states (as part of the pilot program) to notify them of the toll-free number and make this information available on their permitting websites.

Call Before You Haul is intended to prevent unnecessary delays for boat transporters and their customers and help to ensure these companies will not be violating state, or federal, laws pertaining to unlawful transport of aquatic invasive species (e.g., quagga or zebra mussels). 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife manages border inspection stations where all boats being transported are required to stop. Inspections generally take only 10 minutes and go a long way to help protect Oregon’s waterways. Fees from waterway access permits, out-of-state aquatic invasive species prevention permits and motorboat registrations through the Oregon State Marine Board help pay for inspection stations and other prevention efforts. 

For more information on aquatic invasive species in the West, see: www.westernais.org.

Visit myODFW for more information about inspection stations in Oregon and required permits. 

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Duck hunter on Crane Prairie Reservoir, November 2021
Duck hunter on Crane Prairie Reservoir, November 2021
Recreational Boating Fatalities Improved but Remain High (Photo) - 12/28/21

2021 was a safer boating year than 2020, says the Oregon State Marine Board, but the number of fatalities was still above historical levels. “We’re headed back in the right direction,” says Randy Henry, Boating Safety Program Manager for the agency. “But it would be a great resolution for more boaters to simply wear their life jackets in 2022,” he adds. 

Henry completed an annual review of the 2021 boating season’s 19 fatalities, which is an improvement over 2020’s 26 boating fatalities. “We continue to see a large and growing diversity of boaters on Oregon’s waterways,” says Henry. “They were crowded, people were having fun and the types of watercrafts just kept increasing. Boating is a healthy outdoor recreation activity, but we need to step back and talk safety.”

“Fatalities occurred in all types of waters in 2021, in all types of watercraft, and across all age ranges,” says Henry. Victims ranged in age from five to 79, occurred in the ocean, inland rivers, large and small lakes and reservoirs. Half the fatalities were in non-motorized or small electric-powered boats, but others were in larger boats designed for open water. “This reminds us that everyone needs to be prepared no matter who they are or where they are boating,” says Henry. “While life jackets are a great backup, they don’t prevent the incident that led to its need, so you also need to consider weather, tides, and your own skill level before venturing out.”  

The number of coastal fatalities was high this year, with three, double-fatality incidents occurring in the surf zone or at coastal bar crossings. “These involved swift outgoing tides, unexpected breakers and apparent equipment problems or falls-overboard,” says Henry. “Coastal waters are unforgiving. You must be aware of the tide, weather, ocean conditions and where jetty or reef hazards are located. It takes skill and practice. The ocean always deserves your utmost respect,” adds Henry. 

For the second year in a row, Henry notes that several young children died in boating incidents. “One involved a child in a small inflatable raft on the edge of a river who was not wearing a life jacket, and the other was entrapped in a capsized boat with a life jacket on,” said Henry. “It breaks your heart to see these incidents. Occasionally there is an incident where the life jacket isn’t enough, but most of the time, it is. Parents should always put their child in a life jacket, even if just playing on a tube or small inflatable boat at the edge of a pond or other waterway. Things happen so fast.”   

Five of the 2021 boating victims were wearing life jackets, which is somewhat high. “Life jackets absolutely save lives, but they’re not a guarantee,” said Henry. Four of the victims wearing life jackets were caught in surf situations, with two of those suffered significant injuries and two were entrapped in the cabin of a capsized boat. The fifth victim had a medical event that contributed to their death. 

Inflatable life jackets are popular now with many boaters, but Henry says they are not for everyone. “We investigate incidents where life jackets fail to inflate,” says Henry. “What we generally find is that the owner didn’t service the life jacket properly – that the device just wasn’t going to work. Inflatable life jackets are machines that must be tested and maintained. Every person who uses an inflatable life jacket should test it to make sure it’s working. If you don’t know how to work it, wear a life jacket with actual foam flotation, called an inherently buoyant life jacket,” said Henry. “It’s one less variable you’ll have to worry about.” 

Henry noted that the number of female victims was double the 10-year average in 2021, at 31 percent. “Nearly one-third of our boating fatality victims were female,” says Henry. “US Coast Guard data from the 2019 National Life Jacket Wear Rate Report shows that the percentage of women actively boating increased five percent in the last 10 years and is now at nearly 40 percent of all boaters. Thus, we would expect to see the proportion of female fatalities increase.”  

The average age of boating fatality victims this year was 49, within a point of last year, Henry says.  

“This annual review is always sobering,” says Henry. “When you look at the individual incidents, you see so many that could easily have been prevented if the operator had taken a very simple, basic safety precaution, such as waiting until the outgoing tide cycle finished, wearing a life jacket, or checking the weather.  Safe boating is easy if you take the time. That’s the take-home message.” 

Recreational boating data and annual summaries are available from the Marine Board’s website.

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