Boaters reminded not to contaminate lakes… or each other

Record Staff

As spring starts to come on in full force, boaters are being reminded to take particular care of each other and the waterways. In the lead up to the May long weekend, Canada’s Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, launched “North American Safe Boating Awareness Week” by calling on Canadians to continue practicing physical distancing and proper hygiene measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Each year, the launch of the North American Safe Boating Awareness Week is an opportunity to remind all Canadians to put their safety and the safety of their families first, and I know that I can count on recreational boaters to do their part to adhere to safety measures and put into practice the recommendations of local public health authorities to help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” the minister said.
Garneau’s announcement pointed out, among other things, that recreational boating is not necessarily permitted yet in all places, even though the weather is nice, and advised that people check in with their regional health authority for clarification on the current guidelines. In places where boating is allowed but physical distancing is not possible, it is recommended that people wear a mask in addition to the lifejacket or approved personal floatation device that everyone is already required to wear.
As always, it remains illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and boaters are expected to carry proof that they are qualified to operate such a vehicle. Preparing for the unexpected by making an emergency plan is also a good idea.
While Transport Canada was warning boaters about safety, SEPAQ, Quebec’s society for outdoor centres put out a call for boaters to be wary of spreading invasive aquatic species such as
Eurasian water milfoil, the spiny water flea, and zebra mussels. Careful washing of boats when moving from one waterway to another remains an important measure in controlling the spread of invasive species, as even small contaminants can lead to an infestation.
According to Transport Canada there are an estimated 12.4 million recreational boaters in Canada, including those who use canoes, kayaks, and sailboats. The Canadian Red Cross, meanwhile reports that there are an average of 160 water-related fatalities while boating each year and that nearly 90 per cent of boaters who drowned were not wearing, or not properly wearing, a lifejacket.

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