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TPWD News Release — Nov. 12, 2007

TPW Commission Passes ‘Party Boat’ License Rules for Inland Waters

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Thursday approved the publication of proposed regulations that would require party boat operators to be licensed and their boats inspected and insured.

Language included in House Bill 12, enacted by the 80th Texas Legislature, requires the commission to regulate party boats on inland lakes and waterways.

According to the regulations approved by the commission, party boat means “a vessel rented or leased for a group recreational event for more than six passengers that operates on inland waters of this state.”

Not included in the definition are boats less than 30 feet in length, sailboats, livery vessels or any vessel used for training purposes.

According to the rules, a party boat is subject to an annual inspection; requires the operator to be at least 21 years of age, licensed and to have completed a boater safety course; imposes limits on the number of passengers; and requires a minimum amount of liability insurance.

“Unlike excursion vessels and boats engaged in other charter businesses on coastal waters, boats on Texas’ inland waters are not subject to U.S. Coast Guard regulations concerning inspections and licensing,” said Col. Pete Flores, TPWD Law Enforcement Division director. “The new regulations will address that gap and result in increased safety on our inland lakes and rivers.”

TPWD staff will have the licensing and inspection process in place by June 2008, when enforcement of the regulations will begin