Overview of New Watercraft Event Rules

To protect human safety, property, minimize impact to wildlife and reduce spread of invasive species during these events, MDIFW has recently updated rules governing watercraft related events.

On this page:

Non-motorized Boat Events include: regattas, parades, exhibitions, and water-ski events

Permit Application must include:

  • A course map;
  • An assigned event overseer including their name and phone # who will be present at the event;
  • Names of 2 assigned spotters over 18, who have ability to communicate with officials and participants to stop event for emergencies; and
  • Name of at least 1 trained invasive aquatic species inspector. View training information.

Other non-motorized event requirements:

  • At least one 4-foot x 4-foot orange warning flag is needed for display to allow nonparticipating watercraft to pass through the event area;
  • A copy of the event permit and rules shall be made available to all participants in advance and posted at the event; and
  • Within 30 days after race event, reports are required to be submitted to MDIFW on:
  • Aquatic inspections (PDF)

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Motorized Race Events

Permit Application must include:

  • A detailed course map that includes:
    • A minimum 300-foot measurement from shore and any loon nesting sites;
    • Locations of safety hazards such as docks, sunken logs, ledges etc.; and
    • Location of loon nesting sites.
  • An assigned event overseer including their name and phone # who will be present at the event;
  • Names of 2 assigned spotters over 18, who have ability to communicate with officials and participants to stop race for emergencies;
  • Name of at least 1 trained invasive aquatic species inspector; View training information.
  • At least 1 trained emergency responder; and
  • Event overseer shall give the municipality 60 days’ notice, in writing, of intent to apply for permit where race will occur, and copy must be given to MDIFW with application.

Other motorized race event requirements

  • All event officials and participants must have completed a boating safety course (offered on MDIFW Website) and have proof of completion available;
  • A copy of the event permit and rules shall be made available to all participants in advance and posted at the event;
  • At least one 4 x 4-sized orange warning flag is needed for display to allow nonparticipating watercraft to pass through the event area; and
  • Within 30 days after race event, reports are required to be submitted to MDIFW on:
    • Aquatic inspections;
    • Human/wildlife safety; and
    • A roster listing all participants.

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Unique Scenarios

  • Understanding the difference between a public and private event: A planned and advertised public watercraft event that includes spectators, whether watching from shore or from a watercraft, requires a permit. A private event, such as a 4th of July parade with shorefront homeowners who use their boat that remains in that waterbody all summer, to parade around the lake doesn’t require a permit. Neighboring individuals who live on the same waterbody are not considered public spectators. Additionally, a friendly competition between a group of paddlers or watercraft operators that have no public spectators or that wasn’t publicly announced, would not require a permit.

  • Exemption for Youth Camps: Youth camps licensed by DHHS function under an education and instructional approach, are not motorized or non-motorized boat events as defined and focused on within Chapter 13 Watercraft Rules. Youth camps are no longer required to apply for regatta or sailboat race event permits and are exempt from all other watercraft event permitting requirements within this rule chapter.

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Invasive Aquatic Species Inspection Training for Watercraft Events

Beginning in May 2022, all watercraft events will be required to provide an invasive aquatic species inspector. That inspector must complete a standardized aquatic species inspection training program endorsed within the last five years.

For information on this training or questions related to this requirement, please call MDIFW at (207) 287-8000.

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Assistance with loon nesting site location information

For questions related to loon nesting sites & wildlife please contact our loon specialist within the Wildlife Research and Assessment Section at 207-941-4597

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All Watercraft Event Participants

All participants must abide by Maine watercraft laws and rules, it is their duty to be knowledgeable about watercraft laws and operate in a safe and responsible manner.

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Applications