Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Recreational Boating Safety State Grant Program—Part 1

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by Mr. Gary Jensen and Ms. Lynne McMahan, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety

The Recreational Boating Safety State Grant Program was established in 1973, on the heels of the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971, to supplement Coast Guard efforts. Although the Coast Guard is statutorily responsible for maritime safety, we are not staffed or funded to maintain an effective recreational boating safety program by ourselves.

User Pays/User Benefits
Funding for the program currently comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which gets its revenue, in part, from federal excise taxes on motorboat fuel, taxes on sport fishing equipment, and import duties on fishing tackle, yachts, and pleasure boats.

No general tax revenues are used—the funds come from the people who benefit from the services.

To be eligible for funds, a recreational boating safety program must have:
  • a vessel numbering system,
  • a cooperative boating safety assistance program with the Coast Guard,
  • sufficient patrol and other activity to ensure adequate enforcement of applicable state boating safety laws and regulations,
  • a sufficient state boating safety education program that includes disseminating information concerning the hazards of operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
  • a marine casualty reporting system.
How Does This Work?
Of the funds appropriated for the state grant program, the Coast Guard is authorized to retain not more than two percent for the costs of administering it, and up to five percent for grants to national non-profit public service organizations to conduct national boating safety activities.

The balance is allocated as follows:
  • One-third is allocated equally among participating states.
  • One-third is allocated in the same ratio as the number of vessels numbered in the state bears to the number of vessels numbered in all participating states.
  • One-third is allocated in the same ratio as the amount of the state’s prior-year expenditures for boating safety bears to the total prior-year expenditures for boating safety of all participating states.
A state cannot receive more than one-half of the total cost of its program, and funds may only be used for certain purposes.

Examples include:
  • Providing facilities, equipment, and supplies for boating safety education and law enforcement.
  • Training personnel in skills related to boating safety and enforcement of boating safety laws.
  • Providing public boating safety education.
  • Acquiring, constructing, or repairing public access sites used primarily by recreational boaters.
  • Conducting boating safety inspections and marine casualty investigations.
  • Establishing and maintaining emergency or search and rescue facilities, and providing emergency or search and rescue assistance.
  • Establishing and maintaining waterway markers and other appropriate aids to navigation.
  • Providing state recreational vessel numbering and titling programs.
In part 2 we will discuss program areas and results.

For more information:
Full article is available at

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