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It's the Law


Massachusetts Environmental Police shield

Massachusetts Environmental Police officers, harbormasters, police officers assigned to harbor patrol, fish and game wardens, and state police officers enforce the boating laws of Massachusetts. Town police and harbormasters also may enforce local recreational boating laws. USCG officers patrol and have enforcement authority on federally controlled waters.

Officers have the authority to stop and board any recreational vessel at any time to check equipment and registration and to positively identify the vessel operator.

It is illegal to refuse to follow the directive of a person with law enforcement authority. An operator who has received a visual or audible signal from a law enforcement officer must bring his or her vessel to a stop.

Officers may arrest, without a warrant, anyone in violation of, or believed to be in violation of, the boating laws of Massachusetts.

Officers empowered to enforce state boating laws and USCG officers enforcing federal laws may terminate the use of vessels if they find an “unsafe condition” (see Unlawful Operation).