Enforcement Stepped Up On Area Waterways

OCEAN CITY — With the boating-related fatality rate in Maryland nearing record levels, Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) this week announced it was ramping up enforcement for the stretch run of summer through Labor Day across the state including Ocean City.

With thousands of vessels of all shapes and sizes expected to be out on the water on the last three big weekends of summer including Labor Day, the NRP announced this week it will be doing safety inspections, targeting reckless and negligent operators and strictly enforcing under the influence laws.

The ramped up enforcement efforts are in response to a dramatic spike in the number of boating-related fatalities in waters across the state thus far this year. With a big chunk of summer still remaining, along with a typically active fall season, the state’s boating fatality number has already reached 17 this year, just two short of the record set in both 2011 and 1996.

“The victims ranged in age from seven to 63,” said Acting NRP Superintendent Lt. Col. Ken Ziegler. “They were boaters, crabbers, paddlers, anglers, and casual passengers out for fun day on the water.”

Ziegler promised to expand the NRP’s enforcement and outreach efforts over the last few weekends of summer to help ensure that dubious record set in 2011 and 1996 is not reached.

“The vast majority of them were not wearing life jackets,” he said. “They all had one thing in common. None of them thought anything bad was going to happen to them that day.”

Ziegler has authorized additional weekend patrols starting this week through Labor Day weekend to enhance visibility in high-traffic and known problem areas. The increased patrols will be implemented in Ocean City and around the Lower Shore, throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and at Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland. NRP officers will be checking for life-jackets and other required safety equipment.

“This safety campaign is not about writing tickets or generating revenue,” said Ziegler. “It is geared toward keeping our citizens and visitors safe so that they can return again and again to enjoy Maryland’s waters, state parks and beaches.”

In addition to the patrols, NRP will boost its presence at the state’s busiest marinas and boat ramps for the next four weekends.