News Releases

FWC encourages safe boating during Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival

News Release

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Media contact: Bekah Nelson, 850-767-3619 or

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding all boaters to practice safe boating during the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival on June 3 in Fort Walton Beach.

The FWC and law enforcement partners including the United States Coast Guard, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Okaloosa Island Fire Department, Fort Walton Beach Police Department, Fort Walton Beach Fire Department, and several others will be patrolling the waterways for public safety during the event.

Law enforcement agencies are encouraging all boaters to enjoy their time on the water, but to take a few safety precautions to stay safe. This includes designating a sober boat operator, wearing a life jacket, using an engine cut-off switch lanyard, and paying attention and keeping a proper lookout.

“We want everyone to enjoy the many activities that Florida waterways provide, but we ask that all boaters be responsible by using good judgment and common sense while on the water,” said Lt. Keith Clark.

At the 2016 Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival, officers interacted with over 200 vessels and more than 900 individuals. They removed 14 people from the waterways that were boating under the influence and addressed other violations as well.

Again this year, law enforcement agencies will be helping keep people safe by looking for reckless or careless vessel operation and enforcing boating under the influence on any impaired vessel operator. To report any reckless or careless vessel operation, call 888-404-FWCC (3922) or text

For information on safe boating practices, visit and click on “Safety & Education.”. For a copy of the 2016 Boating Accident Statistical Report, visit and select “Safety & Education” and “Boating Accidents.”

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