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New course requirements for airboat operators carrying passengers for hire

At its June 19-20 meeting in Sarasota, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved new course requirements for airboat operators carrying passengers for hire. A tragic airboat accident in south Florida was the impetus behind House Bill 1211, known as “Ellie’s Law,” requiring all airboat operators carrying passengers for hire to complete an Airboat Operators Course.

FWC staff worked with the airboat education industry and stakeholders to gather public input and develop the rule, which details minimum course requirements for instructor qualifications, student requirements, airboat operators course requirements, basic course topics, proof of completion and refresher course requirements. The rule is supported by the airboat education industry, stakeholders and the public as indicated from three public meetings and meetings with the Florida Airboat Association.

“Public safety is important to the FWC, and with the Legislature’s guidance, this new rule provides additional requirements for airboat operator courses which will improve safety measures for passengers aboard an airboat for hire,” said Commission Chairman Bo Rivard.

Implementation of the new rule will go into effect by July 1, 2019.