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The newly formed Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Division of Law Enforcement^s statewide crackdown on drunken boaters netted 30 arrests over the July 4 weekend. This was the first major enforcement effort for the FWC which came into being on July 1. Florida citizens overwhelmingly approved Constitutional Revision 5 on Nov. 3, 1998, and the Legislature passed a bill during this year^s session, establishing the FWC. The agency has the responsibility for the management, protection and enforcement of Florida^s wildlife and aquatic life along with Florida^s boating safety programs. Officers inspected 18,622 vessels during the holiday period, issuing 1,792 citations, 6,059 warnings and conducted more than 40 search- and-rescue missions. The good news of the weekend was that there were no fatalities. "We believe we have made positive strides in bringing to the attention of Florida boaters that alcohol and other boating safety issues are important, just as those same issues are on our highways," said Col. Robert Edwards, director of FWC^s Division of Law Enforcement. "Our officers did an outstanding job coordinating with the media in getting the word out to the public about boating safety issues." Being under one command and control definitely will be beneficial in protecting those utilizing Florida^s waterways, Edwards said. The FWC will continue its efforts to make boating on our waterways safe and enjoyable.

Uploaded: 7/21/1999