Local law enforcement brings awareness to boating safety, manatee zones ahead of holiday weekend

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Not many boaters were on the water on Wednesday when a News4JAX crew did a ride along with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit, but that will all change this weekend.

Local law enforcement agencies, along with JSO, are bringing awareness to boating safety and manatee safety as the summer boating season approaches.

“The last month alone we’ve had several pretty serious boating accidents that resulted in bad injuries,” Mike Haney with the FWC said.

Seventy percent of boating fatalities last year occurred because of a lack of boater education, according to the FWC.

Memorial Day weekend is usually when a lot of boaters head out to the water, but you need to make sure you’re prepared before heading out.

Make sure you have a life vest and a Type 4 throwable device.

More than 60% of deaths while boating last year were caused by drowning, according to the FWC.

Make sure you also have a fire extinguisher on board, a sound-producing device and a flare if you’re more than two miles from shore.

It’s also important to have a lookout who can watch for manatees and other boaters. A large number of collisions happen from not having a proper lookout, according to the FWC.

So far this year, there’s been nine manatee rescues and 20 manatee carcasses recovered, according to the FWC. Eight of the carcasses that were discovered were in Duval County.

The JSO marine unit tells us what he looks for while patrolling on the water.

“Unlike driving you can pull anybody over in a boat to do boaters safety inspection they don’t have to be violating anything,” Holmquist said. “Of course, if they’re driving erratically, they’ll tend to get our attention well go check it out.”

If you’re caught speeding in manatee zones the fines range from $93 to $25,000, and even six months in prison.

About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.