Scoping of Possible Regulations:

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is scoping the GENERAL — Personal Flotation Device Updates.

During the scoping process, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources gathers suggestions and ideas from stakeholders and others about how to solve a boating problem or address a need. The goal of scoping is to identify issues, potential impacts, and reasonable alternatives associated with the issues so that management actions can be developed.

Please visit our Changes to Boating Regulations page for more information about what the department is considering and how to submit comments.

SAFETY FIRST!

TAKE A BOATING SAFETY COURSE

Boaters born on or after July 1, 1972, must carry a NASBLA-approved certificate of boating safety education when operating a motorized boat on Maryland waters. There are a variety of ways to obtain a certificate. Just because you were born before the required date listed above does not make you exempt from having an accident.

Get Educated! Visit our website at dnr.maryland.gov/boating for the dates and times of classes being offered. Online classes are now available. Check the schedule on our website or call 410-643-8502.

DON’T DRINK AND BOAT!

A boat operator whose blood or breath analysis shows an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater is considered to be under the influence of alcohol and subject to criminal prosecution. Alcohol has a more dramatic effect on the body while boating.

PERSONAL WATERCRAFT

Operators of personal watercraft in Maryland must be at least 16 years old and possess a valid certificate of boating safety education. A personal watercraft must be operated at 6 knots or less when within 100 feet of a vessel, another personal watercraft, shore, wharf, pier, piling, bridge structure, abutment, or people in the water (at least 300 feet from people in the Atlantic Ocean).

TOOLS FOR BOATERS

BOATING ACCESS GUIDE

Locate more than 425 public boating access sites in Maryland and get details on amenities, such as size of the facility, parking, accessibility, and hours of operation, using dnr.maryland.gov keyword search boat ramps.

DOWNLOAD THE APP!

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ official mobile app provides outdoor enthusiasts with the tools needed to enjoy everything the great outdoors have to offer.

With the touch of a screen, users can locate ramps, share photos, make park reservations, identify fish, and more. Other features include regulations and boating speed limits, as well as news and alerts.

  • Any motorized boat 16 feet or longer must also carry one throwable type IV life jacket.
  • Children under age 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway on a recreational vessel under 21 feet in length on Maryland waters. It must be the proper size and in good, serviceable condition.
  • Children under age 4 must wear a life jacket that features additional safety precautions as appropriate for an infant, toddler, or young child, which would include an inflatable headrest, web handle, and crotch strap.

For laws and regulations, please visit dnr.maryland.gov.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY

CONTACT THE NATURAL RESOURCES POLICE

  • Report emergency, violation, or abandoned boat: 410-260-8888
    Report missing, damaged, or misplaced buoy: 410-643-6521
    Report boating fatality: 410-576-2525

USE VHF FM MARINE CHANNEL 16

  • The primary marine distress frequency is monitored continuously by the U.S. Coast Guard. Channel 16 must be kept clear—someone’s life may depend on it! Use Channel 9 for non-emergency hailing and then switch to another working channel for routine conversation.

PROTECT OUR WATERS

STOP AQUATIC HITCHHIKERS

Invasive species aggressively establish themselves at the expense of native ecosystems and pose a threat to biodiversity. In Maryland, aquatic invasives include
northern snakehead, blue and flathead catfish, zebra mussels, and underwater plants such as hydrilla.

A single drop of water, a bit of mud, or a tiny plant fragment is all it takes to spread harmful plants and animals. To minimize that risk:

  • thoroughly inspect and clean vehicles, vessels, trailers, and all associated gear after use.
  • remove all plant material and deposit it in dedicated waste stations or trash receptacles.
  • dispose of worms, unwanted bait fish, and fish parts in trash receptacles only.
  • drain all water before leaving the launch; leave boat plugs out while traveling.
  • if possible, allow your boat to dry for five days before launching in another water body.

Learn more at dnr.maryland.gov/invasives.

CLEAN MARINAS AND CLEAN BOATERS

Boaters can help protect our waterways by (1) never littering, (2) preventing fuel spills, and (3) avoiding harsh chemicals and cleaners. There are also nearly 150 clean marinas to choose from across the state. Find locations and sign the Clean Boater Pledge at dnr.maryland.gov/boating.

MARINE SEWAGE PUMPOUT FACILITIES

Keep our waters clean—use pumpouts! There are more than 350 pumpout stations in Maryland. Most are grant funded and open to the public. Dumping raw sewage is illegal and harms our natural resources. Locations of grant-funded pumpouts and regulations governing boat discharge are available at dnr.maryland.gov/boating. Broken pumpouts can be reported to 410-260-8772.

WHAT DO I DO WHEN I SELL MY BOAT?

Vessel owners must notify the department within 15 days if a vessel is sold or destroyed. Notification should include date and circumstances (purchaser name and address, amount of sale) and be forwarded to a Licensing & Registration Service Center either in person, by fax, or by mail. More information: dnr.maryland.gov/service-centers.aspx.

GEAR UP!

The Maryland Natural Resource magazine serves as a guide to both recreation and conservation. Let this quarterly publication inspire you to enjoy, protect, and live in harmony with our great state’s breathtaking landscapes, waterways, and wildlife.

Don’t forget to purchase your DNR Park and Trail Passport from shopdnr.com. Additional items include water trail maps, prints, and more. Our online store is also the portal for entering the department’s annual Photo Contest.

FIND A FISHING SPOT

Visit dnr.maryland.gov/Fisheries/Pages/recreational.aspx to find a fishing spot and site-specific details like species, special regulations, tidal/nontidal dividing lines, and boating and parking information.

SHARE YOUR CATCH

Tell all your best fish tales using the Maryland Angler’s Log. Reports can include your name, hometown, photos, location information, and any details of your experience you’d like to share. Get started at dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries.

WATCH YOUR SPEED

A new, interactive map shows the precise locations of the hundreds of regulated speed zones in Maryland waters. Find it at dnr.maryland.gov/boating or through the mobile app.