Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter Paddle Boards Are Vessels

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: May 22-28

Reminder for the week: Paddle boards are vessels – and boating regulations apply


DNREC Enforcement boat

DOVER (June 2, 2017) – To achieve public compliance through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between May 22-28 made 3,335 contacts with anglers, boaters and the general public, including 620 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks, issuing 70 citations. Officers responded to 69 complaints regarding possible violations of laws and regulations or requests to assist the public. An increased Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence continued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area and Michael N. Castle Trail.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police in the Community

  • On May 23, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers presented information on Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police careers and common native wildlife in Delaware during a “Hero Week” event hosted by the Marshall Elementary School near Newark. 

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Actions

Indian River Coast Guard
Indian River Coast Guard

Incident of note:

  • On May 23, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers cited Roland Naylor, 54, of Smyrna for a commercial fisheries violation of possession of undersized oysters. Naylor was released with an order to appear in Kent County Justice of the Peace Court 7 at a later date.

Citations issued by category, with the number of charges in parentheses, included:

Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Unlicensed fishing (11)*, Fishing in a closed area of a state wildlife area (1)*, possession of undersized blue crab (6), over the limit recreational crab pots (1), tending more than two recreational crab pots (1), improperly marked recreational crab pot (2), and no recreational crab pot bycatch reduction device (2).

Commercial: Possession of undersized oyster (1).

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Boating and Boating Safety: Operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets (9), no life jacket on a child age 12 or younger as required by law (5), no boating safety certificate (8), failure to observe slow-no-wake zone (3), water skiing (tubing)-improper lookout (1), unregistered vessel (2), equipment violation- no sound producing device (2), and equipment violation- no fire extinguisher (2).

Other: Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (11)*, swimming in a prohibited area – state owned pond (1), and damage division property (1)*.

*Includes citation(s) issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish, wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at 

Are you AWARE?

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind paddle boarders – especially those new to the popular sport – to review Delaware’s boating laws and regulations and how they apply to paddle boards before heading out on the waterways.

So what is a paddle board? A paddle board is configured similarly to a surfboard, but usually longer and thicker. The operator of a paddle board stands upright on the board and propels it through the water using a long paddle.

The United States Coast Guard and the State of Delaware recognize a paddle board as a vessel when operated outside the confines of a surfing or swimming area. Therefore, many of the same vessel requirements for personal flotation devices, visual distress signals, sound producing devices and the use of a navigational light during low light conditions apply when paddle boards are operated in Delaware waters.

A paddle board less than 16 feet in length* must meet the following safety equipment requirements when operated in Delaware waters:

  • All paddle boarders must have a United States Coast Guard-approved life jacket on board.
  • Any child age 12 and younger must wear a USCG-approved life jacket at all times while on a paddle board.
  • Paddle boarders must carry a whistle, horn or some other sounding device capable of making an efficient sound signal.
  • When operating between the hours of sunset and sunrise, paddle boarders must carry a visual distress signal – an electric distress light or flares – suitable for night use. This applies to all boards operated on coastal waters and directly-connected waters (bays, sounds, harbors, rivers, inlets, etc.) which are two miles wide or wider.
  • When operating between the hours of sunset and sunrise, a paddle boarder also must have an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light ready at hand for use as a navigation light, which must be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.

*Paddle boards longer than 16 feet may have additional safety requirements.

For access to the online Delaware Boating Handbook and other safe boating information, please click Delaware Boating Safety, or contact Delaware Boating Safety Coordinator Lt. John McDerby at 302-739-9913 or email

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