Water & Boating Safety Administered By A Conservation Agency

In 1960 when the Georgia Legislature considered what agency or agencies were most properly prepared to perform this function, several were considered. The agency favored by most during the initial phase of debate was the Department of Public Safety. The most constructive argument was that they were a well organized, trained and supervised organization. It was reasoned that such an organization could quickly assimilate specialized training outside of their normal duties and, therefore, could assume the additional responsibilities with a minimum of delay. Furthermore, the agency had a registration record capability established for the purpose of licensing drivers. Other agencies such as Parks and Recreation and Game and Fish were considered. It was obvious that these latter two agencies had a vested interest in this mission and function. Furthermore, they possessed the capability for the same reason used in the case of the Department of Public Safety. The result of lengthy debate and detailed evaluation led to the selection of the Game and Fish Division as the best qualified agency for the assumption of this function. Not because it was a conservation agency, but because it had demonstrated over the years that its personnel were more knowledgeable and its equipment more adaptable to the requirements inherent to water and boating safety. Additionally, the type of duties envisioned could be readily integrated into existing functions. The general requirements were identified in the Federal Boating Safety Act of 1960. The Federal Act was implemented by the State Legislature in 1960. This Act triggered several significant actions. The most notable was the requirement that, "all watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water and propelled by machinery in excess of ten (10) horsepower must be registered in order to legally operate on the public waters of the State of Georgia". This requirement was established by the law known as the Motorboat Numbering Act. The Act brought about a volume of activity that our Licensing Division has consistently had difficulty coping with. The Division registered 105,000 in the first year. This requirement has grown five percent each year since. To give you an insight to this volume, let me quote you the figures for the last three years: 1970-105,000; 1971-1 10,000; and 1972 to date- I 15,000. This accounts for only those that are powered with ten horsepower or more. I estimate that there are an additional 100,000 boats being operated on the Georgia waterways for recreational uses, viz, fishing, sailing and rowing, that do not require registration, however do require circulation control.

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