Summer days are here and the many streams, rivers and lakes in the area provide opportunities for excellent fishing.  The week of July 4-12, 2015 is Canadas National Fishing Week.  Fishing is a great pastime with friends and family, or for some peace and quiet on your own.  But it is important to remember to follow the law and to be safe at all times when near waterways and while boating.

Boating Laws and Regulations:

Before you go out fishing in a boat, be aware that there are laws, regulations and local rules covering speed limits, rights of way, use of lights and signals and collisions. Boats need to be registered and licensed. Regulations require anyone operating a power-driven boat to prove they are competent, most often by obtaining the Pleasure Craft Operator Card or taking an accredited boating safety course.  Boating while impaired is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada and penalties include jail and fines.  A conviction for impaired driving of a boat in Ontario results in the suspension of your drivers licence, fines and vehicle ignition locking.  Canadian laws require that recreational boats have one properly fitting lifejacket for each person on a boat.

Boating and Fishing Safety:

According to the Canadian Safe Boating Council and the Lifesaving Society, 80% of recreational boaters who drown each and every year in Canada were not wearing a lifejacket or Personal Floatation Device (PFD).  

Transport Canada has provided the following boating safety tips:

– Always wear a lifejacket or PFD (when on a boat and anytime you are on or around deep or fast-moving water, near shoreline or docks)

– Don’t drink alcohol while boating

– Take an accredited Canadian boating course

– Check the forecast for weather and water conditions

– Inspect all your equipment before departure

– Leave a trip / rescue plan with a responsible person

Here are some safe practices for wading, shoreline and dock fishing:

– Ensure that children have constant adult supervision

– If you are wading, wade with another person, wear your lifejacket or PFD, know how deep the water is and how strong the current is

– Know how to swim for your own safety – don’t swim if there is any doubt about your ability

– Never dive into the water of an unknown area and don’t swim in cold water- Look behind you before you cast to make sure your hook will not get caught on a power line, tree or person.

– Dont leave tackle lying on the ground where someone can step or trip on it.

Boating Accidents:

In Canada, the Marine Liability Act sets out a maximum entitlement of $1,000,000.00 in compensation from injuries or loss of life resulting from a boat operated with negligence (and more in the case of a boat operated recklessly).  Compensation for expenses and financial losses may also be available.

Boating accidents can result in devastating injuries and drownings and can be complex as they may deal with both marine and motor vehicle law.  It is crucial to seek immediate legal advice after getting into a boating accident.

Remember to be safe and respect the rules of the waterways. 

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