Maryland legislators and government officials are proposing new fees and regulations aimed at pleasure boaters.
According to Spinsheet Magazine, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is supporting legislation that would require any gathering of 50 boats or more to apply for, and retain, a “Marine Gathering Permit.”
It would require a permit before 50 or more boats are allowed to gather together in one area. It is unclear what the specific parameters of the law would be, prompting questions from the boating community who are opposed to such a broad scoped regulation. In theory, any fifty boats in close proximity at a large anchorage could be fined for not retaining a permit, such as any eastern shore lagoon on a holiday weekend.
While the intent of the bill, according to MDNR, is to mitigate rising numbers of citations at large organized events such as Chesapeake City’s Canal Days, and the Bumper Bash on the Magothy river. MDNR states in the Spinsheet article that, “During last year’s Bumper Bash, DNR police issued 59 citations, arrested three boaters for OUI, and cited two teenagers for underage drinking. DNR maintains these events stretch their fleet thin, having to take officers away from their areas to help.”
Also on the table are new fees applied to every Maryland pleasure boater, in the form of new registration fees, which are currently $24 for two years, and are possibly going to increase to between $50 and $700 for two years. ouse Bill 1307 – State Boat Act – Fees and Requirements to raise registration fees for 193,000 Maryland boaters.
Continue reading on modenook.com House Bill 1307: Undo burden on Maryland boaters – Baltimore sailing | modenook.com modenook.com/sailing-in-baltimore/house-bill-1307-undo-burden-on-mar…
DNR published a Summary of Proposed State Boat Act Fee Change outlining their position on why the fee increase is necessary. They say that the 500% increase in overall budget will:
“Provide critical funding to maintain 400+ public boating facilities and 265 public navigation channels, including shallow water channels no longer maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These local projects support the State’s $2 billion boating industry, commercial fishing, tourism, and up to 35,000 full-time jobs.“
Some have stated that the new fee’s are a direct result of mis-management of other funds and resources in Maryland over the past few years of economic decline, using monies from government and other programs designed to benefit waterway resources, for other, general fund area’s in response to lowered revenue during the economic downturn. Others maintain that despite the intent that new fee’s help maintain local, public facilities and waterway resources, that these monies will also be re-appropriated by state government for other, non-waterway, or boating necessities.
Tell your Maryland Legislator what you think of the proposals, contact your state representative and speak your peace on House Bill 1307.