RCMP conducting boat pre-checks on Okanagan Lake

Volunteers at Paddlewheel Park boat launch

The RCMP Marine Unit is continuing a voluntary vessel safety pre-check using RCMP volunteers at Paddlewheel Park boat launch.

“This initiative will help speed up our checks on the water,” states Const. Baldoff who is one of the two RCMP members patrolling the lakes around Vernon.

Vernon has the help of trained RCMP volunteers to assist the Marine Unit in allowing boaters to complete a pre-launch inspection of all the items required under the Canada Shipping Act along with its regulations governing pleasure craft.

This is strictly a voluntary check which will result in a document handed to the operator who will be able to produce this when stopped by the RCMP on the water.

This is a preventative measure that not only assists the RCMP but gives the vessel operator the opportunity to correct any deficiencies prior to getting on the water.

READ MORE: RCMP set to patrol Okanagan lakes

There are significant fines under the Canada Shipping Act that will surprise you when issued a ticket on the water.

Examples:

• Failure to have the required pleasure craft licence on board – $250

• Operating a vessel with safety equipment not in good working order or not readily accessible and available for immediate use (not having enough approved life jackets on board) – $200

Some boating offences can result in fines to both the operator of the boat and to the person who allowed the operation of the boat. An example of this would be allowing someone under the age of 16 to operate your PWC.

In addition to the Vessel Safety checks RCMP volunteers will be checking vessels for Quagga and Zebra invasive mussels at Paddlewheel Park boat launch.

“This initiative will help assist us in keeping our lakes free from this invasive species,” states Staff Sargent Major Josh Lockwood – Invasive Mussel Defense Program – Ministry of Environment, Penticton.

Vernon RCMP volunteers will work in conjunction with OASISS, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to working collaboratively to prevent, monitor and control the spread of invasive species in the Okanagan-Similkameen region. We will be using a questionnaire that follows Ministry of Environment protocols. If a boat is determined to be high risk for invasive mussels (based on the answers to those questions) or if the RCMP volunteers were to observe anything suspect, they will call the toll free reporting line (1-877-952-7277) or have the boaters call, ideally in their presence.

This check which will help us be proactive in keeping our lakes and waterways protected.

Please note that should your vessel be coming from a high-risk location and there are indicators that mussels are evident you may be required to have the boat either quarantined or decontaminated. As of December 2012, BC law requires that no Zebra or Quagga Mussel, alive or dead, be present on boats or related equipment. Failure to clean mussels off boats or equipment could result in a fine of up to $100,000.

If you enjoy boating or other water related activities, clean, drain and dry your boat and other equipment. We can all help to prevent the spread of another invasive species into BC waters.

READ MORE: Invasive mussels campaign ramps up


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