Multi-agency boating safety, law enforcement operation underway

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary, working in conjunction with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division, and the Clark, Wash., Multnomah, Ore., and Columbia, Ore., County Sheriff offices, have been patrolling the waters along the Columbia and Willamette rivers to promote safe boating during the Chinook fishing season.

The multi-agency safe boating operation kicked off Friday and will focus on ensuring recreational and commercial Chinook fishermen operate safely on the water, have required safety gear aboard their vessels, enforce state fishery regulations and to implement Operation Make-Way.

Operation Make Way is a joint recreational boater education and enforcement campaign designed to help boaters understand the need to give way and stay clear of commercial deep draft vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver on the Columbia and Willamette rivers.

The Coast Guard, along with local law-enforcement agencies will also patrol the rivers and keep a sharp lookout for people boating under the influence or who operate a charter vessel business without being properly licensed. All illegal passenger vessel operations will be subject to a civil penalty or other law enforcement actions.

Charter vessels should be outfitted with proper lifesaving and firefighting equipment, an emergency checklist, and passengers must receive a safety orientation upon departure from the dock. Random boat checks will be conducted by various agencies at the public access boat ramps and along the rivers. Boaters without required safety equipment or who are providing illegally operations, will be prohibited from getting underway.

For more information on Operation Make Way and the dangers recreational boaters face from commercial vessels, please visit the campaign’s web site, www.volunteerlifesavers.org/makeway.

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