HARRISBURG, Pa (March 27) – During a time when many Pennsylvanians are unable to, or are being advised not to leave their homes, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) encourages boaters and paddlers to take advantage of a wealth of online, educational resources.
Many of these resources, designed to enhance knowledge of boating regulations and best safety practices are free of charge, while some providers charge nominal fees for services. This online learning library can be accessed through a computer, phone, or tablet. These online educational experiences will help the entire family learn how to be a safe boater and direct them to the best local boating or paddling destinations when you are ready to spend time on the water.
Online Courses Offered:
Boating Safety Education Certificate and Boater Safety Courses
A Boating Safety Education Certificate (BSEC) is required by the PFBC for anyone who operates a personal watercraft, and for those born on or after January 1, 1982 who operate a boat powered by motors greater than 25 horsepower. Although in-classroom boating courses are not taking place at this time, boaters can earn a boating safety education certificate (BSEC) through online courses. There are two courses approved by the PFBC:
The courses cost $34.50 each. Those who successfully complete the course receive a temporary certificate valid for 60 days from date of issue and can receive a permanent certificate from the PFBC for additional $10 fee. At this time, please allow additional time for processing and delivery.
Paddlesports Online Learning
While not required, the PFBC recommends that anyone paddling a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard complete basic safety training from an accredited source, such as the American Canoe Association or certified PFBC instructors. There are several online resources available to increase paddling knowledge, listed below.
BoaterExam.com: This Free Paddle Sports Safety Course (www.boaterexam.com/paddling) includes kid-friendly animations and interactive quizzes, and is sanctioned by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard.
AmericanCanoe.org: The American Canoe Association offers online resources and an online course (https://www.boat-ed.com/paddlesports) for $24.50.
Other Online Resources
- The Pennsylvania Boating Handbook can be downloaded for free on the PFBC website (https://www.fishandboat.com/Boat/BoatingRegulations/Pages/BoatingHandbook.aspx). The Handbook provides information on rules of the water, boating etiquette, and regulatory requirements.
- The PFBC also has resources for younger boaters! Online issues of the agency's quarterly newsletter for kids, PLAY can be found at www.fishandboat.com. Each PLAY newsletter includes kid-friendly articles and activities related to boating, fishing, or conservation topics.
- Those with an expired boat registration can renew it online through the Outdoor Shop at www.pa.wildlifelicense.com.
- Purchase your launch permit online. Plan to paddle from a PFBC boat access, or enjoy a PFBC or PA state park lake? All unpowered boats using these facilities must have either a launch permit or be properly registered. PFBC launch permits can be purchased online at the Outdoor Shop. Single-year or two-year permits are available for purchase.
- Find great places to paddle with our interactive maps (www.fishandboat.com/Locate). These maps will lead you to access points and water trails near you.
Remember—To reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus while outdoors:
- When boating, paddling, fishing, or wading, please keep a distance of at least 6 feet between you and the nearest person. A good rule of thumb is that if you can turn your paddle perpendicular on all sides of you without hitting anyone, that is a safe distance.
- If you are boating, paddling, or fishing with a child or children, advise them to not wander into the personal space of others.
- Refrain from carpooling. Sharing a vehicle with others could put you at risk.
- Avoid crowds. If you arrive at your fishing, boating, or paddling spot and it's crowded, find another location.
- Avoid sharing fishing or boating gear with anyone.
- Remember to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; to clean your gear well after using it; and to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after returning indoors.
- If you are enjoying the outdoors at a state or local park, the restrooms may be closed to protect staff and visitors. Use the bathroom before you visit or dispose of waste properly. Carry out any trash, since there are limited staff at these facilities.
- Purchase your launch permit and/or fishing license online at www.fishandboat.com.
- Continue to follow the guidance from the CDC below:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
- Clean surfaces frequently.
- Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.