According to the Coast Guard's annual report on boater safety, Hawaii had one of the highest rates of boater fatalities per 100,000 registered boats in the country in 2013.
Beginning November 10, the Department of Land and Natural Resources will begin enforcing a law that mandates operators of motorized vessels complete and show proof of a boater safety certification course.
Cliff Inn, the DLNR's Boating Safety Specialist, explains the reasoning.
"We liken boating to operating a car, but out on the water you don't have traffic lights, lines in the roads, stop signs…it's open".
The classes are being offered online and in-person. Websites offering the certification include boat-ed.com, boatus.org (which is free of charge) and boatus.com. Classroom courses are being offered at the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
There are exemptions to the law. The DLNR website explains below:
"The rule provides an exemption for individuals who: 1) possess a valid merchant mariner credential issued by the United States Coast Guard, (2) operate a thrill craft in a commercial thrill craft zone as authorized by the State, 3) operate a vessel powered by a motor rated at 10 horsepower or less, 4) are on a voyage originating out of State and will remain in the State less than 60 calendar days, or 5) received a safety briefing approved by the State and are operating a rented vessel. As of this writing, the rule does not provide exemptions for ocean safety personnel, federal/state/county personnel, lifeguards, marine enforcement, researchers, etc."
The penalties for motorized vessel operators who are caught without the proper certification range from $50-$1000, jail time for up to 30 days, and loss of vessel use for up to 30 days.