Thursday, July 15, 2010

Boaters Beware -- Robbing the River From the Public, From Boaters, Is Plan of Some in Wake of Duck Boat Tragedy

River Belongs to the Public -- Including the Day to Day Boaters

Speakers on the radio, in the news, authors of letters to the editor and others are starting to assert that by virtue of the fact that they were operating on the Delaware River, including in and around the main navigation channel, the Duck Boat operators are somehow primarily responsible for the accident that took place on July 7, 2010. These characterizations are not only wrong -- blame cannot be placed simply because the Ducks Boats were operating on the Delaware River -- but they are now being used by some like the Maritime Exchange, to try to kick boaters off the water in Philadelphia leaving it open only to barge, tug, tanker and container traffic.  

The Duck Boat tragedy should not be used as a messaging tool to attempt to deprive the public, boaters, fishers and small business operations from free and appropriate access to the Delaware River.  This issue of boat access is a bit like the defense of the first amendment, we need to protect it for all; sometimes that means protecting it for the one in order to protect it for the all.  And so boaters and fishers of all kinds need to stand together to protect access to the Delaware River, no matter what kind of boat we are talking about.

The Delaware is a shared resource – it is a resource that belongs to the public and which we choose to share with industry.   The Delaware River does not belong to the ports or industry.  It is wholly inappropriate for any individual or entity to suggest that port operators or big business have a higher right to travel upon the Delaware River than the public.   It is wholly inappropriate for any individual or entity to attempt to use this tragedy to urge the ejection of the public, boaters, fishers or small business from travelling in any portion of the Delaware River if they are behaving responsibly, operating with the correct safety equipment, and operating in accordance with safe boating operations and measures.

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