NEWS from BoatUS
Boat Owners Association of The United States
880 S. Pickett St., Alexandria, VA 22304
BoatUS Press Room at www.BoatUS.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Scott Croft, 703-461-2864, SCroft@BoatUS.com
Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Reopens to Recreational Boaters
New Travel Procedures with Electronic Fish Barrier
CHICAGO, Ill. September 15, 2009 – The US Coast Guard (USCG) Ninth District reopened the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to recreational boating traffic on Saturday, September 12 after a four-week closure. In addition, new procedures for recreational vessels transiting the Canal have been put in place, including a daily 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. travel window, and a requirement that boaters receive authorization from the USCG prior to transiting.
The closure was made after the canal’s operator, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) doubled the voltage of the Electric Fish Dispersal Barrier from one volt/inch to two volts/inch. America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association and Dozier's Waterway Guide worked with the Boat Owners Association of The United States to get the canal reopened to recreational boating traffic.
Located between Canal mile markers 296.0 to 296.7, the Barrier is designed to prevent the spread of Asian carp, an aquatic nuisance species that has the significant potential to decimate the Great Lakes $4.5 billon fishery. After a carp was found south of the barrier in an area of “extreme risk,” the barrier’s voltage went up and a temporary closure was enacted as safety tests were conducted for recreational boats with fiberglass hulls. Until Saturday’s opening, the only way for boats to transit the barrier was to pay $600 to be towed through. Most commercial traffic, which is largely comprised of steel-hulled vessels, was not halted.
“We want to thank the US Coast Guard and US Army Corps of Engineers for striking a balance that will ensure the fish barrier remains effective while continuing to allow recreational boat passage,” said BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. “Due to the revenue boaters provide, many downstream communities along the river are also eagerly anticipating the return of recreational boating traffic.”
The waterway is a crucial link for recreational boats navigating “The Great Loop, ” a popular long distance cruise that includes the Great Lakes, Mississippi River, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Seaboard.
The new measures for recreational boats requesting passage on the canal include:
· Daily transit times are from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
· Vessels requesting passage must first obtain permission from the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port Representative on VHF channel 16 or telephone 630-336-0296.
· All persons aboard a vessel transiting the Barrier’s “Safety Zone” must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
· Vessels must be over 20 feet in length. Due to the risk of personal shock, all personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks, rafts, shells, or non-motorized sailboats are still prohibited from transiting.
· Persons aboard any vessel transiting the barrier must remain seated, should avoid contact with standing water and anything metal unless necessary for navigation, and avoid making contact with anything outside the hull.
For more information on passage, go to http://www.d9publicaffairs.com/go/site/1295/ . A free downloadable brochure, Electronic Fish Barrier Trifold, is also available.
BoatUS – Boat Owners Association of The United States – is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its 600,000 members with government representation, programs and money saving services. For membership information visit www.BoatUS.com or call 800-395-2628.