Secretary of State urges waterway watch

America’s waterway watch program depends on resident involvement

With the start of the Michigan boating season in May, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and the U.S. Coast Guard encourage residents to help keep the state’s waterways and marinas safe by reporting any suspicious or illegal activities to authorities.

Resident involvement is crucial to America’s Waterway Watch, the national effort to safeguard the country’s marine resources. Combined with the efforts of the Coast Guard and its Reserve and Auxiliary units, Michigan residents, boaters and businesses can provide the “eyes and ears” needed to help monitor thousands of miles of state shoreline and waterways.

“Michigan is a water lover’s paradise, whether you boat, fish, kayak, scuba dive, water ski or swim,” said Johnson, who oversees the titling and registering of watercraft. “Keeping our waterways and marinas safe is essential to protecting one of the greatest natural resources that has so enriched our way of life. The America’s Waterway Watch campaign asks you to do your part by reporting any suspicious or illegal activity to authorities.”

Information about America’s Waterway Watch is available at all Secretary of State offices and on the Department of State website at www.Michigan.gov/sos.

This is the seventh year that the Department of State has joined with the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons in promoting the campaign. Capt. Jeff Ogden, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Detroit; Capt. Joseph McGuiness , Commander, Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie and Capt. Luann Barndt, commander, Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, representing the Great Lakes region, said that public participation makes it possible to monitor thousands of miles of state shoreline and open water with minimal resources.

“Keeping Michigan and the country safe requires constant attention,” Midgette said. “America’s Waterway Watch promotes greater public awareness about the importance of defending our waterways by giving citizens an opportunity to participate. All that is required is a watchful eye and common sense. We are pleased to work with Secretary Johnson to make information about the campaign available at all Secretary of State offices.”

America’s Waterway Watch asks residents to report:

• Any suspicious person who misuses boats or seems strangely unfamiliar with them.

• Any person or watercraft that appears to be loitering or has no specific reason for being in the area.

• Anyone trying to access a boat by using force.

• Unattended vessels in odd locations.

• Unusual night operations.

• Lights flashing between boats.

• Anyone recovering or tossing items into waterways or onto shorelines.

Residents are cautioned to not approach or challenge anyone acting suspiciously. Any concerns should be called into the National Response Center at (877) 24WATCH (249-2834). Life-threatening emergencies and serious threats to property should be reported to 911 or called into the Coast Guard on Marine Channel VHF 16.

The Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Homeland Security sponsor America’s Waterway Watch nationwide. More information is available on the Coast Guard website at americaswaterwaywatch.org.

Information about Secretary of State services and programs is available on the department website or through the official Secretary of State Twitter feed and Facebook page.