Boat Safety Concerns

Jun 07, 2017

To the Editor:

A hiring freeze in the state Department of Environmental Protection is raising serious boater safety concerns.

Over the years the department has identified locations in state and federal channels where boaters exceeding 5 mph place other boaters at risk and their wakes cause irreparable erosion to bay islands.

In April of prior years the department placed No Wake buoys in those areas that limit speed to 5 mph. Boaters exceeding the limit could be issued a ticket that has consequences for their motor vehicle license.

To date there are no No Wake buoys in channels from Brant Beach south, and the department’s Coastal Engineering Division was unsure when they would be placed.

I understand that only one of the department’s two barges are operational due to the hiring freeze, causing delays in the placement of No Wake buoys in the channels. I was informed that the department’s priority is to place navigation aids.

I also was informed that it is the responsibility of the U.S. Coast Guard and the N.J. Marine Police to enforce the speed limit regardless of the presence of No Wake buoys. However, according to the Coast Guard they have no statutory authority to enforce state regulations. Budget cuts have greatly reduced Marine Police patrols in our area.

Boaters are under the impression the no No Wake buoys mean no speed limit.

Memorial weekend verified their interpretation of the regulations with boats and personal watercraft exceeding the limit by 20 to 30 or more mph. Fortunately, there were no accidents in our immediate area.

Boaters are encouraged to call Gov. Chris Christie (609-292-6000), DEP Commissioner Bob Martin (609-292-2885) and local state legislators and ask: Why is boater safety not a high priority for the department, placing boaters at risk? Why is there no notification to boaters on the delayed placement of the No Wake buoys? Why is the department counting on the Coast Guard and Marine Police to maintain safe speed limits in the designated areas when the Coast Guard is not authorized to do so and the Marine Police are understaffed?

Peter Trainor

North Beach Haven

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