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DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter:

 May 11-17

Reminder for the week: Personal watercraft operators need to review rules for their vessels


DOVER (May 22, 2015) – To achieve public compliance through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between May 11-17 made 1,257 contacts with anglers, boaters and the general public, including 111 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Officers responded to 44 complaints and issued 33 citations, three of which were related to the C&D Canal Conservation Area and associated recreational trail, where there is an increased Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence.


An incident of particular note was:

  • On May 16, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers arrested Robert J. Andrews, 20, of Wilmington, and charged him with one count each of operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol (OUI), underage consumption of alcohol, operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets and no sound-producing device on board/required safety equipment at Indian River Inlet. Andrews was taken to the Bethany Beach police station for a breathalyzer test and released pending arraignment May 29 at Justice of the Peace Court 14 in Georgetown.


Citations issued by offense type included the following, with the number of charges in parentheses:


Wildlife Conservation: Operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area (1)*, operating an unregistered vehicle on a state wildlife area (1)*, and dumping on a state wildlife area (1)*, New Castle County; Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (2), Kent County.


Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Fishing without a license (9), Kent and Sussex counties; Tending more than two recreational crab pots (1), and use of recreational crab pots without required turtle excluder (1), Sussex County.

Commercial: Possession of undersized oysters (4), possession of untagged oysters (2), and failure to tend commercial gill net within 48 hours (1), Kent County. (For more on these cases, see Three commercial fishermen cited for violations.)


Boating and Boating Safety: Operating a motor vessel with an expired registration/operating an unregistered vessel (2), Kent and Sussex counties; Operating a motor vessel under the influence of alcohol (1), operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets (2), no sound-producing device on board/required safety equipment (1), and failure to observe slow/no wake zone (1), Sussex County.


Public Safety: Second-degree felony reckless endangering (1), disorderly conduct (1), and underage consumption of alcohol (1), Sussex County.


* These citations were issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.


Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police News, Training and Outreach

  • On May 16, officers participated in the Lewes Ferry Terminal’s Maritime Day. Officer Adam Roark displayed the Operation Game Theft trailer and spoke to the public about boating safety, while Sr. Cpl. Nathan Evans assisted the Delaware State Police aviation section while underway on the Natural Resources Police marine patrol vessel MP Whiskey.


Are you AWARE?

With the long holiday weekend at hand, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind personal watercraft (PWC) owners – especially new owners – to review Delaware’s boating laws and regulations and understand how they apply to PWC operation prior to heading out on the waterways.


As PWC manufacturers develop new and innovative technology increasing the comfort, size and speed of the vessels, also known as jet skis, their popularity and use continue to grow on Delaware’s waterways. As popularity and use of PWCs grow, so do accidents, violations and conflicts with other recreational boaters.


Currently there are 59,337 registered motor vessels in the state of Delaware. Of those registered vessels, 4,829 are PWCs. In 2014, 24 boating accidents were reported on Delaware waters, including two involving PWCs. One of the PWC accidents resulted in personal injury, while the other was the state’s only boating-related fatality last year.


Since PWCs are considered motor vessels, operators must comply with several safety and operation requirements, some of which are specific to PWC operation. The following laws apply to all PWCs operated on Delaware waters: 

  • Anyone born after Jan. 1, 1978 must complete an approved boating safety course and carry their boating safety education card with them prior to operating a motor vessel – including a PWC – in Delaware waters.
  • PWC operators must be age 16 or older. Ages 14 and 15 may operate a PWC, but only under the direct supervision of a parent or legal guardian on board. Youth under age 14 may not operate a PWC on Delaware waters.
  • PWC times of operation are restricted to the hours of sunrise to sunset.
  • PWC operators and passengers must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while underway.
  • PWCs are equipped with an emergency ignition safety “kill” switch attached to a lanyard required to be worn by all PWC operators. This switch shuts off the engine if the operator is thrown from the proper operating position.
  • All PWCs must be equipped with safety equipment that includes a whistle, horn or other sound-producing device, and a Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher.
  • Prohibited PWC maneuvers which endanger the safety of persons and property include:

-        Weaving through congested vessel traffic;

-        Jumping or attempting to jump the wake of another vessel;

-        Following within 100 feet of a water skier; and

-        Speeding in restricted speed areas.

  • Towing water skiers is prohibited without a rear-facing observer on board. The PWC also must be designed by the manufacturer to carry the operator, the observer and the person or persons being towed.
  • No person shall exceed the manufacturer’s carrying capacity of any PWC.
  • Within the Delaware waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware’s Inland Bays adjacent to incorporated areas, PWCs are required to maintain headway speed or slower when operating less than 300 feet from all persons in the water and any shoreline, wharfs, piers, docks, boat launching areas, pilings, bridge structures, moored, drifting or anchored vessels, and all non-motorized vessels.
  • Except for the waters of Delaware’s Inland Bays adjacent to incorporated areas and the Atlantic Ocean, PWCs must maintain headway speed or slower when operating less than 100 feet from all wharfs, docks, boat launching facilities, piling, bridges structures, moored, drifting or anchored vessels, all non-motorized vessels and any shoreline. In all areas, PWCs must remain at least 300 feet from all persons in the water.


For more information on safe boating practices in Delaware, including more details on PWC laws and regulations, please visit Delaware Boating Safety.


DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish and wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at