Make Sure You Know These Montana Watercraft Laws
The heat is on and Montanans are flocking to the water. Game wardens are telling us that they are seeing many recreation lovers out of compliance.
We are by no means trying to preach or lecture here. Most of this is common sense and common knowledge. But just in case, why screw up a long-awaited getaway on the water with a violation?
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks understands your desire to beat the heat and get out and enjoy one of Montana's gorgeous bodies of water. However, along with having fun, folks need to follow all the laws while out and about. Wardens have been checking a lot of boaters and anglers recently, and some common issues are recurring as summer is getting underway.
License possession while fishing. Many anglers contacted this spring and summer have not had their license in possession while fishing. This is a requirement by law. Anglers are required to produce their fishing license when requested by a game warden.
Required safety equipment on boats. Multiple citations have been issued this summer for insufficient safety equipment on boats. By law, the following are required on watercraft:
>>>A wearable U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device must be readily accessible for every person on the vessel, regardless of age. This includes, but is not limited to, all boats, kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis and canoes.
>>>All vessels 16 feet in length and over must have one U.S. Coast Guard approved throwable personal flotation device that is immediately available for use.
>>>Children under 12 years of age must wear a life jacket on a boat less than 26 feet in length that is in motion.
>>>Towing/Skiing. There must be at least two people on board a towing vessel, one operator/driver and one observer. If the operator is 12 or younger, the observer must be at least 18. The person(s) being towed must be wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket
>>>Fire extinguishers. All motorboats must carry a U.S. Coast Guard-approved type B fire extinguisher.
Pretty basic stuff, right? But, given how many conversations wardens are having with people not in compliance so far this year, some of these requirements are getting overlooked. There are more on this page of the Montana FWP website if you'd like to check out what else you might need to know before you hit the water.
Safety first, friends.
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