Coast Guard and Alaska Governor sign memorandum of understanding for Alaska boating safety programs

JUNEAU, Alaska – Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Rear Adm. Gene Brooks, Commander, Seventeenth Coast Guard District signed a memorandum of understanding at the Capital Building Friday to renew relationships between the State of Alaska and the Seventeenth Coast Guard District concerning non-commercial boating safety programs and mutual enforcement of laws relating to boating safety on the waters within the jurisdiction of the State of Alaska and the United States.

The memorandum of understanding covers responsibilities concerning law enforcement, boating while intoxicated, public education and training, vessel numbering, boating casualty reports and investigative reports, search and rescue, Coast Guard Auxiliary and regattas and marine parades.

“Renewal of this agreement strengthens and continues the extraordinary relationship between the State of Alaska and the U.S. Coast Guard and demonstrates our joint commitment to boating safety,” said Rear Adm. Brooks. “In a state where boating is so much more than a recreational activity, this agreement provides the cooperative mechanisms to enhance the safety of everyone on the water in the Last Frontier.”

Alaska has more than 33,000 miles of coastline, more than the entire “lower 48” states put together, more than 3,000 rivers, and more than 3 million lakes. Most of the state’s 621,000 residents live in the 10 largest cities, but many others live miles from the road system in towns and villages spread along the coast and the interior rivers and lakes.

From power boating and air boating to rafting, kayaking, and canoeing, Alaska’s boating opportunities are as superlative as they are diverse. Unfortunately, Alaska also has one of the highest non-commercial boating fatality rates in the nation.

In Alaska, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death. Accident statistics reveal that 3 out of 4 boating fatalities were the result of capsizing or falling overboard into cold water, where the boater was not wearing a life jacket. Most had not taken a single boating safety course.

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