Debate over boater qualifications

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JUNE 18 —Sea Tow Internationalplans to host an executive roundtable discussion at its Southold, N.Y., headquarters next month to discuss mandatory boater education.

The roundtable will include industry representatives from key business segments, a news release says. The company, which has been serving the recreational boating public for 24 years, says boaters, like auto drivers, are at the mercy of those who share their waterways.

“Because of this, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to be cognizant of, and adherent to, basic safety practices and the rules of the road. The way to accomplish this is through universal boater education,” according to the statement.

“As marine assistance professionals we’ve responded to hundreds of thousands of cases over the years, ranging from simple breakdowns to catastrophic incidents,” Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer, Sea Tow’s chairman and CEO, says in the statement. “Our highly experienced captains know firsthand that there’s a vital need for boater education.

Sea Tow’s president Capt. Keith Cummings, in the statement, says the company believes requiring boater education will significantly decrease accident and mortality rates and also encourage new entrants to boating.

More than 30 states have some form of educational requirements in place, but only a handful of those states have boater education requirements that apply to every boater in the state, regardless of age, the company says in the statement.