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Lawmaker seeks waiver for U.S., Canadian boaters

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y., introduced legislation this week that would waive a reporting requirement for Canadian boaters who do not anchor or dock in American waters.

If passed, the legislation would not take effect until identical legislation is passed in Canada for American boaters.

“For more than a century the economic development of our border communities has depended on a common-sense relationship between the United States and Canada,” Owens said in a statement. “It is critical to the continued economic recovery of the region that the reporting requirements for boaters and fishermen on both sides of the border are clear and easy to understand, allowing boaters from both nations to enjoy shared waterways.”

Owens is working with Canadian Parliament member Gordon Brown on the issue.

“Since the end of May, I have been working with our officials and the Minister’s office to try to find a solution to the confusion that exists between our two countries’ rules,” Brown said in a statement. “Though some changes were made to simplify the opportunities for reporting in Canada, I am pleased to note that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews just announced that the department will be reviewing the regulations. For my part, I will continue to encourage the department and the minister to harmonize the regulations with that of our U.S. friends so that boaters will face the same rules on both sides of the border.”

The legislation is being crafted in reaction to a May 30 incident in which a U.S. boater had his vessel boarded by a Canadian Border Services Agency officer and was issued a $1,000 fine for not first reporting his entry into Canadian waters to the Canadian authorities.

A decades-long lack of enforcement of this requirement led American boaters in the region to believe they could recreate freely without reporting.

The Canadian government later announced that they were reducing the fine for the American citizen involved in the incident from $1,000 to $1 and would allow American boaters to report to Canadian law enforcement from their cell phones.

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