Boating Fun

Boating Fun

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Boating fun beached by regulations, letter,June 26.
The author of this letter asks, "Remember when boating was fun?" I would like to offer some insight to the person who wonders why he can no longer speed around our waters with reckless abandon.
There are many reasons to monitor "boating fun." The ecological reasons are numerous; irresponsible operation of motorized watercraft degrades our natural systems. For example, reckless boaters destroy seagrass beds, oyster beds and mangroves, which are vital nursery and feeding grounds for not only fish and birds, but are also essential to the existence of manatees, dolphins and sea turtles.
Mangroves are not only important to wildlife, but also to people. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection Web site says that unnecessary boat wakes are harmful to the mangroves and oyster beds that stabilize our shorelines and prevent erosion. Mangroves also filter and prevent pollution from entering our waterways. Ironically, wave action produced by boating "fun" may eventually erode and diminish the letter writer's own waterfront property and may call for additional spending on seawall maintenance!
Lastly, if you are still wondering why authorities are trying to "take the fun out of boating," here are a few interesting facts from the 2004 Florida Boating Accident Statistical Report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:
In 2004, the state of Florida registered a record-breaking 982,907 vessels. Consequently, boating fatalities increased by 6 percent over the previous year, with a reported 68 fatalities.
Pinellas County reported the highest number of boating accident fatalities at seven deaths.
Rental personal watercraft were involved in 43 percent of personal watercraft accidents statewide (but the author wonders why authorities pay close attention to these rented vessels).
Finally, according to the report, "41 percent of reported accidents were primarily caused by either carelessness/inattention or violation of a navigation rule.

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Lastly, the letter writer claims he has seen only two manatees in four years. This comes as no big surprise. He is probably oblivious to the manatees' presence as he zooms past them (if not over them) in his speeding boat, noisily and selfishly spewing emissions into the air and water.
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