Main Content



Boater Education Law: Anyone 21 years and younger, who operates a vessel powered by 10 horsepower or more, must pass an approved boater safety course and have in his/her possession photographic identification and a boater safety identification card issued by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. A person is exempt from this requirement if there is a person on board who is not affected by this law and who is attendant to and responsible for the safe operation of the vessel.

The Florida Clean Vessel Act For Boaters: Boaters in the State of Florida are prohibited from discharging ANY raw sewage into freshwater or within coastal saltwater limits. Coastal limits are 9 nautical miles on the Gulf side and 3 nautical miles on the Atlantic side.

Specifications: No raw sewage may be discharged into Florida waters. Affected vessels 26 feet or more, except houseboats and floating structures, may use either a portable or permanent toilet. House boats and floating structures must have permanently installed toilets attached to Type III Marine Sanitation Device or direct line hook-up. Avoid discharge of bilge waste into the water.

Enforcement and Penalties: Enforcement Officers may board a vessel to inspect Marine Sanitation Devices. Violations are noncriminal infractions carrying fines of $50.00 to $250.00. To Report Illegal Dumping, call 1-888-404-3922

For More Information, Please Contact:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Division of Law Enforcement
620 S. Meridian St., MS630
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600
(850) 488-5600

Reference: The Florida Clean Vessel Act: What It Means To Boaters. Published by Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Minimum Required Safety Equipment for Recreational Boaters**

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
- One USCG Approved PFD for each person on board. Children under 6 years old must wear approved and properly fitting PFD whenever vessel is under way. Also, one throwable device.

Fire Extinguisher(s) - Must be USCG approved and in serviceable condition.

Visual Distress Signal - Required on vessels where the distance between shorelines is over two miles.

Sound Signal - Capable of a 4-6 second blast audible for 1/2 nautical mile. Bells are required on vessels over 12 meters.

Note** Different class vessels (based on overall length) may have additional safety equipment requirements. In addition, passenger-carrying and other commercial vessels have slightly different requirements. For more information, please contact the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission office listed in the Resource Directory on this Boater’s Guide Web site.

Reference: US Congress - Navigation Rules

What Can You Do To Protect Florida Manatees?
Wear polarized sunglasses while operating a boat. Polarized lenses make It easier to see things under the surface.

Pole, paddle or use a trolling motor when over shallow seagrass beds.
Slow down and observe all manatee speed zones and caution areas.

While swimming or diving, do not approach or chase a manatee.
Don’t pollute! Pick up trash such as fishing line and plastic bags.