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Maine Boating Law Highlights

Fishing Regulations Maine Freshwater Fishing

A person may not operate a motorboat or personal watercraft on the inland waters of the state unless a Lake & River Protection Sticker is affixed to both sides of the watercraft. The fee is $10 for boats registered in Maine, and $20 for boats registered outside Maine.

Any watercraft equipped with machinery of any horsepower must be registered, including sailboats, canoes, dinghies and rowboats. The OPERATOR must have the valid registration certificate on board and available for inspection at all times the boat is in operation. NOTE: Before a boat can be registered, the owner must (1) submit proof that the excise tax has been paid to their town tax collector or that the boat is tax exempt, and (2) pay sales tax or use tax on all boats purchased from another person (casual sale). Assigned registration numbers, stickers and excise tax decals must be displayed on both side of the bow of the boat, in that order.

Boats validly registered in other states having a federally approved law can operate, for a period of 60 consecutive days, without licensing in Maine.

An operator of a boat of more than 10 horsepower must be at least 12 years of age unless under the immediate supervision of a person at least 16 years of age.

Children 10 years of age or under are required to WEAR a Type I, II or III PFD in all watercraft.

Craft less than 16 feet and all canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards regardless of length, must carry at least 1 Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD), Types I, II, or III (wearable), for each person aboard. Watercraft 16 feet or longer must carry the above PLUS 1 Type IV (throwable) device immediately available in craft. See Maine Boat Law for requirements for carrying passengers for hire or other commercial purposes.

Boating accidents involving personal injury, death or property damage estimated at $2,000 or more must be reported to a law enforcement agency by the quickest means possible.

Prudent and reasonable speed is required at all times; operation to endanger persons or property, in a reckless manner, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is prohibited. It is unlawful to engage in prolonged circling, informal racing, wake jumping or other types of continued and repeated activities that harass another person. This subsection may be enforced by any law enforcement officer or a person may bring a private nuisance action for a violation of the subsection pursuant to Title 17 Section 2802.

Watercraft operating between sunset and sunrise must display lights and carry such other safety equipment required by federal and state law.

For a copy of the Federally approved Maine Boating Law, contact the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, 284 State St., Augusta, ME 04333, phone: (207) 287-8000.

Water Safety Zone and Headway Speed: Watercraft MAY NOT be operated at greater than headway speed (speed necessary to maintain steerage and control) within the water safety zone (the area within 200 feet of the shoreline, whether the shoreline of the mainland or of an island) or within a marina or an approved anchorage in coastal or inland waters, except while actively fishing.

Maine has a tough OUI (operating under the influence) provision in its boating law.