As Long Islanders started to prepare for Memorial Day Weekend, local officials from Suffolk County, Town of Islip, as well as the Coast Guard assembled on Wednesday, May 26 at the Maple Ave. dock in Bay Shore to urge better boating practices for a safer Great South Bay in 2021.
Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter was joined by local top brass including Acting Suffolk County Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron, Retired US Navy Captain and Councilman John Cochrane, Jr., David Anderson of Fire Island Ferries; Town of Islip Public Safety Commissioner Anthony Prudenti, Matthew Barbara of Surfside 3 Marina, Morgan Benggio of the U.S. Coast Guard, Town of Islip Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs & DPW Commissioner Tom Owens, as well as Krupa Lauricella from the office of Councilman James O’Connor.
“With more boats on the water, we must be even more cautious now than ever before,” said Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “We live in one of the most beautiful parts of Long Island. The Great South Bay offers something for everyone who loves to be on the water, from sailing, paddle boarding, to kayaking, wakeboarding, jet skiing and boating. Let’s keep it safe for everyone,” said Supervisor Carpenter.
According to data shared by Carpenter at the conference, the boating industry surged last summer during the pandemic, and this trend appears to be continuing in 2021. As dealerships struggled to maintain sales inventory, marine products and services across the country leaped to a 13-year high in 2020 at $47 billion, a nine percent increase over the prior year. Many entering the market are first-time boat buyers, which also rose last year for the first time in over a decade, up by 10 percent. This influx of inexperienced boaters led to a sharp uptick in watercraft incidents in Long Island waters last summer. These numbers are confirmed by the Water Sports Foundation, a national advocacy group dedicated to promoting safer boating practices. Additional data from the U.S. Coast Guard further cited that 70 percent of all boating fatalities in 2019 stemmed from incidents where vessel operators had no formal safety instruction.
While Brianna’s Law was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on August 6, 2019 and went into effect on New Year’s Day of 2020, the legislation requiring all operators of motorized watercraft to complete a state-approved boating safety education course is being introduced in phases, with the mandate not applicable to all boaters until 2025.
However the Town of Islip will be offering boating safety courses in the near future, with details to be announced on the Town website. Islip Public Safety Commissioner Anthony Prudenti also made it clear at the press conference that Town of Islip Harbor Patrol will be assisting Suffolk County Police Department Marine Bureau in performing random safety checks on vessels this summer.
“Take that safety course even if it’s not required,” said Acting Suffolk Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron at the conference. “You’ll definitely learn something and it will help you be more safe.”
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