Florida FWC Ensures Boater Safety During Fourth of July Weekend

Aaron Burrell

BAY COUNTY, Fla. – With the Fourth of July on a Thursday this year, many people took Friday off, leading to a busy long weekend on the water. In Florida’s Panhandle, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is extra busy ensuring safety.

“We’re on water patrol, like a police car on the water,” said Officer Chris Borley of the FWC Division of Law Enforcement.

NewsChannel 7 joined three FWC officers on a patrol boat. Officer Borley explained the need for increased vigilance on holiday weekends.

“On a holiday weekend, there’s a lot of boat traffic. We check that everyone is safe,” Borley said.

“When we stop boats, we look for required safety gear like life jackets, a horn or whistle, and fire extinguishers,” Borley continued. “If a boat has fishing gear, we check their catch to ensure it’s in season and within limits.”

During the patrol, they visited Shell Island, a popular spot for boaters. The FWC’s main goal is safety, not limiting fun.

“Our priority is safety. We want everyone to enjoy the holiday and get home safe,” Borley emphasized.

Ensuring boaters have proper equipment and stay alert is central to the FWC’s mission.

“We make sure all required safety gear is on board, and that people are operating boats safely and sober,” Borley added.

The holiday weekend also marks Operation Dry Water, promoting sober boating.

“We want to ensure no one is operating a boat while impaired by alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs,” Borley stated.

If you see an FWC officer patrolling the waters this weekend, give them a friendly wave.

“Our officers will be out working hard to ensure everyone is safe and having fun,” Borley said.

For those hitting the waters, remember that safety is key to a fun and memorable holiday weekend.

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