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4 july 2015 FOGHORN Our Crowded Waterways Keeping Our Heads on a Swivel Our waterways are conduits to creating lasting memories to discovering worlds of adventure and to generating economic opportunities. On our rivers lakes and oceans a father brings his daughter fishing for the first time and a young man learns his ancestors trade a family takes a hard-earned vacation and a Master cares for his vessel while remem- bering that protecting the promise of our waterways rests on each of us. Here we are smack in the middle of summer. Beaches are in full swing PVA vessel operations are in high gear and so is the recreational watercraft season. Our waterways are jammed with kayaks canoes recreational boats stand-up paddle boards personal watercraft water skiers wake boarders kite boarders parasail- ing enthusiasts and now water jet devices WJDs. All of these types of waterborne activities con- stantly have our collective pro- fessional maritime communitys head on a swivel being proactive while trying to avoid confronta- tion with the recreational boating community. Our shorelines and beachfront communities have become so overcrowded during the summer months that there has been some debate this crowding may be a large contributing factor as to why people have turned to increased recreational boating and personal watercraft usage. Giant oil tankers passenger ferries and freighters laden with cars and trucks all navigate the narrow channels of New Yorks harbor. So increasingly do sailboats jet skiers and kayaks. The waters are not always calm between the tradi- tional commercial and the new recreational users. Often you cannot see them until it is almost too late. However they have as much right to utilize these waterways as we do. So what do we do as passenger vessel operators to alleviate this growing segment of industry with which we need to share the waterways We educate. The Passenger Vessel Association is an industry leader when it comes to safety and it is a direct correlation and reflection to our safety record. Education is the single most important entity we as PVA operators have to help further reduce the number of casualties on our waters. In May of 2015 the United States Coast Guard released its recreational boating statistics for 2014. It is worth highlighting a few of its findings from the executive summary that further supports the need for PVA members to educate within their rec- reational communities. On a positive note nationally there were 8047 accidents in 1997 and an outstanding reduction in 2014 of 4064 incidents which is almost a 50 percent reduction. Of those 4064 accidents last year there were 610 deaths 2678 injuries and approximately 39 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. This was the second lowest recorded number since 1997. The fatality rate was 5.2 deaths per 100000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 10.6 percent increase from last years fatality rate of 4.7 deaths per 100000 registered recreational vessels. Compared to 2013 the number of accidents increased 0.05 percent the number of deaths increased 8.9 percent and the number of injuries increased 2.2 percent. Where the cause of death was known 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned and 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were operating vessels less than 21 feet in length. Operator inattention improper lookout operator inexperience excessive speed and alcohol use rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents. Alcohol use is a leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. We can make the difference. Getting together with local organizations in the recreational and personal wa- tercraft communities to express and demonstrate your concerns as a commercial operator can be a crucial first step. One of the biggest hurdles we face is that people who operate these recreational vessels and personal watercraft do not have a complete understanding of what we passenger vessel operators must contend with LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Dave Anderson Operator inattention improper lookout operator inexperience excessive speed and alcohol use rank as the top five primary contributing factors in recreational boating accidents. letter from the president Continued on page 30