Fourteen violation notices have been issued to Columbia River boaters by the U.S. Coast Guard this year for failing to give way to commercial deep-draft vessels.
Operation Make Way is the Coast Guard’s safety campaign this fall fishing season. The agency has had ship riders on deep-draft vessels as well as on Columbia County Sheriff’s Office boat patrols to observe fishing boats blatantly disregarding warnings to move.
Violators can get civil penalties as large as $5,000, and also be found guilty of other charges. A boater may be held accountable for cleanup or reimbursement if their actions are found to lead to a spill, damages, injuries or loss of life.
Fishermen are allowed to anchor in the shipping channel, but must pull anchor and move well before a big vessel is upon them.
“Our biggest concern is preventing collisions, groundings or other incidents that could result in massive damage to the environment, injuries or death,” said Capt. Len Tumbarello, Deputy Commander of Sector Columbia River.