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US federal judge declares boating illegal in all US navigable waters

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Camping' started by nipperwolf, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. nipperwolf


    Likes Received:
    Oct 3, 2002

    US federal judge declares boating illegal in all US navigable waters

    By IBI Magazine

    In a rather bizarre ruling that has marine industry officials worried, Judge Robert G. James of the United States District Court, Western Division of Louisiana, has said that it is criminal trespass for the American boating public to boat, fish, or hunt on the Mississippi River and other navigable waters in the US.

    In the case of Normal Parm v. Sheriff Mark Shumate, James ruled that federal law grants exclusive and private control over the waters of the river, outside the main shipping channel, to riparian landowners. The shallows of the navigable waters are no longer open to the public. That, in effect, makes boating illegal across most of the country.

    "Even though this action seems like a horrible pre-April fools joke, it is very serious," said Phil Keeter, MRAA president, in a statement. "Because essentially all the waters and waterways of our country are considered navigable in the US law, this ruling declares recreational boating, water skiing, fishing, waterfowl hunting, and fishing tournaments to be illegal and the public subject to jail sentences for recreating with their families."

    Last month, James rejected the findings of the Magistrate judge who found earlier that the American public had the right under federal law and Louisiana law to navigate, boat, fish, and hunt on the waters of the Mississippi river up to the normal high water line of the river. Judge James Kirk relied on the long established federal principles of navigation that recognized the public navigational rights "…entitles the public to the reasonable use of navigable waters for all legitimate purposes of travel or transportation, for boating, sailing for pleasure, as well as for carrying persons or property for hire, and in any kind of watercraft the use of which is consistent with others also enjoying the right possessed in common."

    "MRAA is working with the Coast Guard, state boating law administrators, and NMMA to fight this onerous ruling," said Glen Mazzella, MRAA chairman, in the statement.

    (14 September 2006)
  2. Sharker


    Likes Received:
    May 20, 2002
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Wow, thats a screwed up ruling. Its gonna get overturned. There is no way that can hold up. I am surprised it would get this far.

  3. G36's Rule

    G36's Rule Senior Member

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    Dec 1, 2001
    Spring, TX.
    Actually, that is a huge amount of hyperbole.

    What the judge ruled was that the public does not have the right to invade someones private property just because the Mississippi is at flood stage and has flooded their property.

    Hunters and anglers were/are going onto private property when the river is at flood stage that is not normally accessible, because it is private, when the river is at a normal level.

    The ruling clearly states that the normal channel of the Mississippi, and any other river, is still open to all normal activities.

    Good ruling.
  4. water_daddy


    Likes Received:
    Mar 15, 2003

    Can't agree with you on this...neither does the MRAA, the Coast Guard, state boating law administrators, and NMMA according to the article.

    I own water front property on a navigable river and feel this is an infringement of citizen rights and a twisted definition to navigable water way. This issue came about more so from wealthy water front owners wanting more separation from the lower class. As the Judge is attempting to do, when you allow further definition of navigation, boating, access, public, private...etc than we will continue to lose more freedom.

    One point that some are failing to understand, water bodies are subject to ever changing factors (climate, bridge,dam, & levee construction, sedimentation, resource extraction...etc)and thus fixed delinations of public and private access are IMO inappropriate.

    Last point. How is it trespass when a person never touches foot on private property. There is no ownership of the water or air space that I know of. Will we get to the point where flying over private property is also illegal?

    Very bad ruling. This isn't the America I was born in.

    Edited for SP