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Plastic tags meant to head off double safety inspections

MOREHEAD CITY – N.C. Marine Patrol and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission officers will be working together in the coming days on a pilot project designed to help avoid stopping boaters twice for safety inspections and to expedite other vessel stops.

The two enforcement agencies will be attaching plastic tags to vessels after completion of safety inspections on Saturday and Sunday, and again over the July 4 holiday. The tags will serve as a visual cue from one officer to another that the boat has already been checked.

“If I see that tag, I know you’ve already been checked for safety equipment, and I don’t need to stop you to go through that process again,” said Marine Patrol Col. Jim Kelley.

Marine Patrol tested this procedure over the Memorial Day weekend, and people were receptive to it, Kelley said.

“If it continues to be well-received, we will probably use it during all of the summer holiday weekends,” Kelley said.

With a few exceptions, vessels are required to carry on board:

·         An approved fire extinguisher;
·         A personal flotation device (life jacket) for everyone on board;
·         A type IV throwable cushion; and
·         An emergency sound-making device (such as a horn or whistle).

Both Marine Patrol and Wildlife Commission officers stop vessels to check for this equipment in coastal waters. While the agencies typically do not patrol in the same areas at the same time, there have been incidents in the past where vessels have been stopped for safety inspections more than once.

The tags are meant to decrease these types of occurrences; however, the tags will not keep officers from stopping vessels for license and fish size and creel limit checks or if a violation is observed, Kelley said.

The tags also will not keep the U.S. Coast Guard from making safety checks.

For more information on the vessel tagging initiative, contact Marine Patrol Major Dean Nelson at 252-808-8133 or For information on boating safety requirements, go to or call 919-707-0031.

Download a photo of a boat safety inspection tag at

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