1625-0071 Stat/Authority

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Boat Owner's Report - Possible Safety Defect

1625-0071 Stat/Authority

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§ 4103

TITLE 46—SHIPPING

of the United States is measured’’ for ‘‘operating on the
high seas’’.
1996—Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 104–324 added subsec. (f).
1988—Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 100–540 amended subsec. (e)
generally without regard to the prior repeal of subsec.
(e) by Pub. L. 100–424.
Pub. L. 100–424 struck out subsec. (e) which read as
follows: ‘‘Each uninspected fishing, fish processing, or
fish tender vessel operating on the high seas shall be
equipped with the number and type of emergency
position indicating radio beacons prescribed by regulation.’’ See section 4502(a)(7) of this title.
1986—Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 99–640 added subsec. (e).

shall, by regulation, require certain additional
equipment which may include liferafts or other
lifesaving equipment, construction standards, or
specify additional operating standards for those
uninspected passenger vessels defined in section
2101(42)(A) of this title.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 529; Pub. L.
103–206, title V, § 511(b), Dec. 20, 1993, 107 Stat.
2442.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section

REGULATIONS
Pub. L. 104–324, title IX, § 902(b), Oct. 19, 1996, 110 Stat.
3947, provided that: ‘‘The Secretary of the department
in which the Coast Guard is operating shall issue regulations establishing the requirement described in subsection (f)(2) of section 4102 of title 46, United States
Code, as added by this section, by not later than October 1, 1997.’’
TERRITORIAL SEA OF UNITED STATES
For extension of territorial sea of United States, see
Proc. No. 5928, set out as a note under section 1331 of
Title 43, Public Lands.

Page 78

Source section (U.S. Code)

4105 ..............................................

46:1452
46:1453

Section 4105 provides that an uninspected passenger
vessel is subject to Chapter 43, as a recreational vessel
even when it is carrying not more than six passengers.
REFERENCES IN TEXT
The date of enactment of this subsection, referred to
in subsec. (b), is the date of enactment of Pub. L.
103–206, which was approved Dec. 20, 1993.
AMENDMENTS
1993—Pub. L. 103–206 designated existing provisions as
subsec. (a) and added subsec. (b).

§ 4103. Exemptions
(a) The Secretary may exempt a vessel from
any part of this chapter if, under regulations
prescribed by the Secretary (including regulations on special operating conditions), the Secretary finds that—
(1) good cause exists for granting an exemption; and
(2) the safety of the vessel and individuals on
board will not be adversely affected.
(b) Section 4102(a) of this title does not apply
to a vessel propelled by outboard motors when
competing in a race previously arranged and announced or, if the vessel is designed and intended only for racing, when operated incidental
to tuning up the vessel and its engines for the
race.

§ 4106. Penalties
If a vessel to which this chapter applies is operated in violation of this chapter or a regulation prescribed under this chapter, the owner,
charterer, managing operator, agent, master,
and individual in charge are each liable to the
United States Government for a civil penalty of
not more than $5,000. The vessel also is liable in
rem for the penalty.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 529; Pub. L.
100–540, § 3, Oct. 28, 1988, 102 Stat. 2719.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section

Source section (U.S. Code)

4106 ..............................................

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 529; Pub. L.
100–540, § 2, Oct. 28, 1988, 102 Stat. 2719.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section

Section 4106 provides a civil penalty of $100 for a violation of this chapter or a regulation under this chapter. The vessel also is liable in rem.

Source section (U.S. Code)

4103 ..............................................

46:525h

Section 4103 contains an exemption from carrying
fire extinguishers, for on a vessel competing in an organized race or a vessel designed and intended for racing
only.
AMENDMENTS
1988—Pub. L. 100–540 added subsec. (a) and designated
existing provisions as subsec. (b).

[§ 4104. Repealed. Pub. L. 101–595, title VI,
§ 603(3)(A), Nov. 16, 1990, 104 Stat. 2993]
Section, Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 529, required Secretary to prescribe regulations to carry out
provisions of this chapter.

§ 4105. Uninspected passenger vessels
(a) Chapter 43 of this title applies to an uninspected passenger vessel.
(b) Within twenty-four months of the date of
enactment of this subsection, the Secretary

46:526o

AMENDMENTS
1988—Pub. L. 100–540 substituted ‘‘not more than
$5,000’’ for ‘‘$100’’.

CHAPTER 43—RECREATIONAL VESSELS
Sec.

4301.
4302.
4303.
4304.
4305.
4306.
4307.
4308.
4309.
4310.
4311.

Application.
Regulations.
Inspection and testing.
Importation of nonconforming vessels and
equipment.
Exemptions.
Federal preemption.
Prohibited acts.
Termination of unsafe operation.
Investigation and reporting.
Repair and replacement of defects.
Penalties and injunctions.
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES

Chapter 43 contains the laws applicable to recreational vessels, which originated primarily with the
enactment of the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 (Public Law 92–75, 85 Stat. 213). That Act embraced a num-

Page 79

§ 4302

TITLE 46—SHIPPING

ber of activities, but the portion restated in this chapter deals with the establishment of national construction and performance standards for recreational vessels
and their associated equipment, the necessary flexible
regulatory authority for inspection and testing, Federal preemption, certain necessary prohibited acts, enforcement authority, investigation and reporting requirements, procedures for repair and defect notification, and attendant penalties and injunctive relief.
These laws are a direct response to the dramatic increase in the number of recreational boats and the Congressional recognition of the maritime safety problems
that recreational boating has imposed upon our more
than 25 million miles of waterways.

§ 4301. Application
(a) This chapter applies to a recreational vessel and associated equipment carried in the vessel on waters subject to the jurisdiction of the
United States (including the territorial sea of
the United States as described in Presidential
Proclamation No. 5928 of December 27, 1988) and,
for a vessel owned in the United States, on the
high seas.
(b) Except when expressly otherwise provided,
this chapter does not apply to a foreign vessel
temporarily operating on waters subject to the
jurisdiction of the United States.
(c) Until there is a final judicial decision that
they are navigable waters of the United States,
the following waters lying entirely in New
Hampshire are declared not to be waters subject
to the jurisdiction of the United States within
the meaning of this section: Lake Winnisquam,
Lake Winnipesaukee, parts of the Merrimack
River, and their tributary and connecting waters.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 529; Pub. L.
105–383, title III, § 301(b)(4), Nov. 13, 1998, 112
Stat. 3417.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section

Source section (U.S. Code)

4301 ..............................................

46:1453

Section 4301 provides that this chapter is applicable
to a recreational vessel that operates on waters subject
to the jurisdiction of the United States or that is
owned in the United States and while operating on the
high seas.
It also provides that a foreign recreational vessel
that temporarily uses our waters is not subject to the
requirements of this chapter. However, if the vessel remains permanently in the United States, it would be
subject to the provisions of this chapter.
Section 4301(c) recognizes the ongoing controversy
over the navigability of certain waters of New Hampshire. While a recreational vessel operating on these
waters need not meet the requirements of this chapter,
it would be prohibited from operating on any other waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States if
it does not comply with these requirements.
REFERENCES IN TEXT
Presidential Proclamation No. 5928, referred to in
subsec. (a), is set out under section 1331 of Title 43,
Public Lands.
AMENDMENTS
1998—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 105–383 inserted ‘‘(including
the territorial sea of the United States as described in
Presidential Proclamation No. 5928 of December 27,
1988)’’ after ‘‘of the United States’’.

EFFECTIVE DATE
Chapter effective Apr. 15, 1984, see section 2(g)(1) of
Pub. L. 98–89, set out as a note under section 3101 of
this title.

§ 4302. Regulations
(a) The Secretary may prescribe regulations—
(1) establishing minimum safety standards
for recreational vessels and associated equipment, and establishing procedures and tests
required to measure conformance with those
standards, with each standard—
(A) meeting the need for recreational vessel safety; and
(B) being stated, insofar as practicable, in
terms of performance;
(2) requiring the installation, carrying, or
use of associated equipment (including fuel
systems, ventilation systems, electrical systems, sound-producing devices, firefighting
equipment, lifesaving devices, signaling devices, ground tackle, life- and grab-rails, and
navigational equipment) on recreational vessels and classes of recreational vessels subject
to this chapter, and prohibiting the installation, carrying, or use of associated equipment
that does not conform with safety standards
established under this section; and
(3) requiring or permitting the display of
seals, labels, plates, insignia, or other devices
for certifying or evidencing compliance with
safety regulations and standards of the United
States Government for recreational vessels
and associated equipment.
(b) Each regulation prescribed under this section shall specify an effective date that is not
earlier than 180 days from the date the regulation was published, unless the Secretary finds
that there exists a recreational vessel safety
hazard so critical as to require an earlier effective date. However, this period may not be more
than 24 months for cases involving, in the discretion of the Secretary, major product design,
retooling, or major changes in the manufacturing process.
(c) In prescribing regulations under this section, the Secretary shall, among other things—
(1) consider the need for and the extent to
which the regulations will contribute to recreational vessel safety;
(2) consider relevant available recreational
vessel safety standards, statistics, and data,
including public and private research, development, testing, and evaluation;
(3) not compel substantial alteration of a
recreational vessel or item of associated
equipment that is in existence, or the construction or manufacture of which is begun before the effective date of the regulation, but
subject to that limitation may require compliance or performance, to avoid a substantial
risk of personal injury to the public, that the
Secretary considers appropriate in relation to
the degree of hazard that the compliance will
correct; and
(4) consult with the National Boating Safety
Advisory Council established under section
13110 of this title about the considerations referred to in clauses (1)–(3) of this subsection.
(d) Section 8903 of this title does not apply to
a vessel being operated for bona fide dealer dem-

§ 4303

TITLE 46—SHIPPING

onstrations provided without fee to business invitees. However, if on the basis of substantial
evidence, the Secretary decides under this section that requiring vessels so operated to be
under the control of licensed individuals is necessary for boating safety, then the Secretary
may prescribe regulations requiring the licensing of individuals controlling these vessels in
the same manner as provided in chapter 89 of
this title for individuals in control of vessels
carrying passengers for hire.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 530.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section
4302 ..............................................

Source section (U.S. Code)
46:1454
46:1455
46:1456
46:1464(g)
46:1488

Section 4302 authorizes the Secretary to prescribe
regulations to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
In lieu of establishing specific statutory safety requirements, subsection (a) provides flexible regulatory authority to establish uniform standards for the design,
construction, materials, and performance of the boats
themselves and all associated equipment. It also provides for the display of seals and other devices for certifying or evidencing compliance with applicable safety
regulations or standards.
Section 4302(b) requires a regulation prescribed under
this section to have an effective date that is not earlier
than 180 days from publication. However, in those instances where a safety hazard may be critical an earlier
effective date is authorized.
Section 4302(c) requires the Secretary to consider certain objectives in developing regulatory controls and
regulations or standards and that there must be an effective consultation process.
Section 4302(d) exempts dealer demonstration boats
from the requirement of having to be named by a licensed individual when demonstrating boats to prospective purchasers or other business invitees when no
fees are charged. The Secretary may require that boats
so used be under control of a licensed individual.
AVAILABILITY AND USE OF EPIRBS FOR RECREATIONAL
VESSELS
Pub. L. 105–383, title III, § 309, Nov. 13, 1998, 112 Stat.
3422, provided that: ‘‘The Secretary of Transportation,
through the Coast Guard and in consultation with the
National Transportation Safety Board and recreational
boating organizations, shall, within 24 months of the
date of the enactment of this Act [Nov. 13, 1998], assess
and report to Congress on the use of emergency position indicating beacons (EPIRBs) and similar devices
by operators of recreational vessels on the Intracoastal
Waterway and operators of recreational vessels beyond
the Boundary Line. The assessment shall at a minimum—
‘‘(1) evaluate the current availability and use of
EPIRBs and similar devices by the operators of recreational vessels and the actual and potential contribution of such devices to recreational boating safety; and
‘‘(2) provide recommendations on policies and programs to encourage the availability and use of
EPIRBS [sic] and similar devices by the operators of
recreational vessels.’’

§ 4303. Inspection and testing
(a) Subject to regulations, supervision, and reviews that the Secretary may prescribe, the Secretary may delegate to a person, private or public agency, or organization, or to an officer or

Page 80

employee under the supervision of that person
or agency, any work, business, or function related to the testing, inspection, and examination
necessary for compliance enforcement and for
the development of data to enable the Secretary
to prescribe regulations under section 4302 of
this title.
(b) The Secretary may—
(1) conduct research, testing, and development necessary to carry out this chapter, including the procurement by negotiation or
otherwise of experimental and other recreational vessels or associated equipment for
research and testing purposes; and
(2) subsequently sell those vessels.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 531.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section
4303 ..............................................

Source section (U.S. Code)
46:1457

Section 4303 authorizes the Secretary to delegate to
certain persons or agencies or organizations any work,
business, or function related to the testing, inspection,
and examination necessary for compliance enforcement. The Secretary may also conduct research, testing, and development necessary to carry out this chapter, including procurement of vessels and equipment
and their subsequent sale. The Committee wishes to
make clear that the Secretary may sell anything that
was purchased to test.

§ 4304. Importation of nonconforming vessels and
equipment
The Secretary and the Secretary of the Treasury may authorize by joint regulations the importation of any nonconforming recreational
vessel or associated equipment on conditions,
including providing a bond, that will ensure that
the recreational vessel or associated equipment
will be brought into conformity with applicable
safety regulations and standards of the Government before the vessel or equipment is operated
on waters subject to the jurisdiction of the
United States.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 531.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section
4304 ..............................................

Source section (U.S. Code)
46:1460

Section 4304 requires the regulation and control of
the importation of nonconforming recreational vessels
and associated equipment. This is to assure United
States manufacturers that foreign imports comply with
those regulations and standards in effect for United
States products so that all manufacturers will be on
this same competitive footing. This is being done in
lieu of providing a specific prohibition against the importation of these vessels and equipment that might be
considered an imposition of a non-tariff barrier to
trade.

§ 4305. Exemptions
If the Secretary considers that recreational
vessel safety will not be adversely affected, the
Secretary may issue an exemption from this
chapter or a regulation prescribed under this
chapter.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 531.)

Page 81

§ 4309

TITLE 46—SHIPPING
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES

Revised section
4305 ..............................................

Source section (U.S. Code)
46:1458

Section 4305 permits the Secretary to grant appropriate exemptions from the requirements of this chapter when recreational vessel safety will not be adversely affected.

§ 4306. Federal preemption
Unless permitted by the Secretary under section 4305 of this title, a State or political subdivision of a State may not establish, continue
in effect, or enforce a law or regulation establishing a recreational vessel or associated equipment performance or other safety standard or
imposing a requirement for associated equipment (except insofar as the State or political
subdivision may, in the absence of the Secretary’s disapproval, regulate the carrying or
use of marine safety articles to meet uniquely
hazardous conditions or circumstances within
the State) that is not identical to a regulation
prescribed under section 4302 of this title.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 531.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section
4306 ..............................................

Source section (U.S. Code)
46:1459
46:1460

Section 4306 establishes the Federal preemption of
recreational boating standards and requirements. A
State or a political subdivision may not establish, continue, or enforce a law or regulation establishing a performance or other safety standard that is not identical
to a Federal standard. The Secretary may grant an exemption to a State when the State requirement is one
that is needed to meet uniquely hazardous conditions
or circumstances within a State. This is to provide uniform standards without the imposition of excessive special requirements by individual States.

§ 4307. Prohibited acts
(a) A person may not—
(1) manufacture, construct, assemble, sell or
offer for sale, introduce or deliver for introduction into interstate commerce, or import
into the United States, a recreational vessel,
associated equipment, or component of the
vessel or equipment unless—
(A)(i) it conforms with this chapter or a
regulation prescribed under this chapter;
and
(ii) it does not contain a defect which has
been identified, in any communication to
such person by the Secretary or the manufacturer of that vessel, equipment or component, as creating a substantial risk of personal injury to the public; or
(B) it is intended only for export and is so
labeled, tagged, or marked on the recreational vessel or equipment, including any
markings on the outside of the container in
which it is to be exported;
(2) affix, attach, or display a seal, document,
label, plate, insignia, or other device indicating or suggesting compliance with standards
of the United States Government on, in, or in
connection with, a recreational vessel or item

of associated equipment that is false or misleading; or
(3) fail to provide a notification as required
by this chapter or fail to exercise reasonable
diligence in carrying out the notification and
reporting requirements of this chapter.
(b) A person may not operate a vessel in violation of this chapter or a regulation prescribed
under this chapter.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 531; Pub. L.
98–557, § 8(a), Oct. 30, 1984, 98 Stat. 2862.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section

Source section (U.S. Code)

4307(a) .........................................
4307(b) .........................................

46:1461(a)
46:1461(c)

Section 4307 prohibits certain acts in the manufacture and operation of recreational vessels.
AMENDMENTS
1984—Subsec. (a)(1)(A). Pub. L. 98–557 designated existing provisions as cl. (i), substituted ‘‘and’’ for ‘‘or’’,
and added cl. (ii).

§ 4308. Termination of unsafe operation
If an official charged with the enforcement of
this chapter observes a recreational vessel being
operated without sufficient lifesaving or firefighting devices or in an overloaded or other unsafe condition (as defined in regulations prescribed under this chapter) and, in the judgment
of the official, the operation creates an especially hazardous condition, the official may direct the individual in charge of the recreational
vessel to take immediate and reasonable steps
necessary for the safety of individuals on board
the vessel, including directing the individual in
charge to return to a mooring and to remain
there until the situation creating the hazard is
corrected or ended.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 532; Pub. L.
99–307, § 1(9), May 19, 1986, 100 Stat. 445.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section

Source section (U.S. Code)

4308 ..............................................

46:1462

Section 4308 authorizes an appropriate official to terminate the unsafe operation of recreational vessels. If
the official observes the vessel being operated without
sufficient lifesaving or firefighting devices or in an
overloaded or other unsafe condition (as defined in regulations) and believes the operation creates an especially hazardous condition, the operator may be directed to take immediate and reasonable steps necessary for safety, including returning to a mooring and
remaining there until the hazard is corrected or ended.
This does not prevent the assessment of any applicable
civil penalties nor the pursuing of appropriate criminal
action.
AMENDMENTS
1986—Pub. L. 99–307 substituted
charge’’ for ‘‘operator’’ in two places.

‘‘individual

in

§ 4309. Investigation and reporting
(a) A recreational vessel manufacturer to
whom this chapter applies shall establish and
maintain records and reports and provide information the Secretary may require to enable the

§ 4310

TITLE 46—SHIPPING

Secretary to decide whether the manufacturer
has acted or is acting in compliance with this
chapter and regulations prescribed under this
chapter. On request of an officer, employee, or
agent authorized by the Secretary, a recreational vessel manufacturer shall permit the
officer, employee, or agent to inspect, at reasonable times, factories or other facilities, and
records related to deciding whether the manufacturer has acted or is acting in compliance
with this chapter and regulations prescribed
under this chapter.
(b) Information reported to or otherwise obtained by the Secretary or the representative of
the Secretary under this section containing or
related to a trade secret or other matter referred to in section 1905 of title 18, or authorized
to be exempt from public disclosure by section
552(b) of title 5, is confidential under section
1905. However, on approval of the Secretary, the
information may be disclosed to other officers,
employees, or agents concerned with carrying
out this chapter or when it is relevant in a proceeding under this chapter.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 532.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section
4309 ..............................................

Source section (U.S. Code)
46:1463

Section 4309 requires the establishment and maintenance of certain records by manufacturers, and the inspection and access to these records by the Secretary,
at reasonable times, so as to assure Federal enforcement officials that the manufacturer has acted or is in
compliance with applicable laws and regulations. It
also provides protection for matters related to trade secrets and exemptions from public disclosure.

§ 4310. Repair and replacement of defects
(a) In this section, ‘‘associated equipment’’ includes only items or classes of associated equipment that the Secretary shall prescribe by regulation after deciding that the application of the
requirements of this section to those items or
classes of associated equipment is reasonable
and in furtherance of this chapter.
(b) If a recreational vessel or associated equipment has left the place of manufacture and the
recreational vessel manufacturer discovers or
acquires information that the manufacturer decides, in the exercise of reasonable and prudent
judgment, indicates that a recreational vessel or
associated equipment subject to an applicable
regulation prescribed under section 4302 of this
title either fails to comply with the regulation,
or contains a defect that creates a substantial
risk of personal injury to the public, the manufacturer shall provide notification of the defect
or failure of compliance as provided by subsections (c) and (d) of this section within a reasonable time after the manufacturer has discovered the defect.
(c)(1) The notification required by subsection
(b) of this section shall be given to the following
persons in the following manner:
(A) by first class mail or by certified mail to
the first purchaser for other than resale, except that the requirement for notification of
the first purchaser shall be satisfied if the recreational vessel manufacturer exercises rea-

Page 82

sonable diligence in establishing and maintaining a list of those purchasers and their
current addresses, and sends the required notice to each person on that list at the address
appearing on the list.
(B) by first class mail or by certified mail to
subsequent purchasers if known to the manufacturer.
(C) by first class mail or by certified mail or
other more expeditious means to the dealers
and distributors of the recreational vessels or
associated equipment.
(2) The notification required by subsection (b)
of this section is required to be given only for a
defect or failure of compliance discovered by the
recreational vessel manufacturer within a reasonable time after the manufacturer has discovered the defect or failure, except that the manufacturer’s duty of notification under paragraph
(1)(A) and (B) of this subsection applies only to
a defect or failure of compliance discovered by
the manufacturer within one of the following
appropriate periods:
(A) if a recreational vessel or associated
equipment required by regulation to have a
date of certification affixed, 10 years from the
date of certification.
(B) if a recreational vessel or associated
equipment not required by regulation to have
a date of certification affixed, 10 years from
the date of manufacture.
(d) The notification required by subsection (b)
of this section shall contain a clear description
of the defect or failure to comply, an evaluation
of the hazard reasonably related to the defect or
failure, a statement of the measures to correct
the defect or failure, and an undertaking by the
recreational vessel manufacturer to take those
measures only at the manufacturer’s cost and
expense.
(e) Each recreational vessel manufacturer
shall provide the Secretary with a copy of all
notices, bulletins, and other communications to
dealers and distributors of that manufacturer,
and to purchasers of recreational vessels or associated equipment of that manufacturer, about
a defect related to safety in the recreational
vessels or associated equipment, and any failure
to comply with the regulation or order applicable to the recreational vessels or associated
equipment. The Secretary may publish or otherwise disclose to the public information in the
notices or other information the Secretary has
that the Secretary considers will assist in carrying out this chapter. However, the Secretary
may disclose any information that contains or
relates to a trade secret only if the Secretary
decides that the information is necessary to
carry out this chapter.
(f) If, through testing, inspection, investigation, or examination of reports, the Secretary
decides that a recreational vessel or associated
equipment to which this chapter applies contains a defect related to safety or fails to comply with an applicable regulation prescribed
under this chapter and notification under this
chapter is appropriate, the Secretary shall notify the recreational vessel manufacturer of the
defect or failure. The notice shall contain the
findings of the Secretary and shall include a

Page 83

TITLE 46—SHIPPING

synopsis of the information on which they are
based. The manufacturer may then provide the
notification required by this chapter to the persons designated in this chapter or dispute the
Secretary’s decision. If disputed, the Secretary
shall provide the manufacturer with an opportunity to present views and establish that there
is no such defect or failure. When the Secretary
considers it to be in the public interest, the Secretary may publish notice of the proceeding in
the Federal Register and provide interested persons, including the National Boating Safety Advisory Council, with an opportunity to comment. If, after presentation by the manufacturer, the Secretary decides that the recreational vessel or associated equipment contains a defect related to safety or fails to comply with an applicable regulation, the Secretary
may direct the manufacturer to provide the notifications specified in this chapter.
(g) The Secretary may prescribe regulations to
carry out this section, including the establishment of procedures that require dealers and distributors to assist manufacturers in obtaining
information required by this section. A regulation prescribed under this subsection does not
relieve a manufacturer of any obligation imposed by this section.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 532; Pub. L.
107–295, title IV, § 433, Nov. 25, 2002, 116 Stat.
2129.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Revised section

Source section (U.S. Code)

4310 ..............................................

46:1464

Section 4310 imposes certain requirements on a recreational vessel and associated equipment manufacturer to provide notification of a defect or the failure
of compliance after a manufacturer discovers the defect
or failure. This section spells out the procedure for notification and who shall be notified. It assures the public of notification while protecting the manufacturer
from the potential of damaging and inaccurate disclosures.
AMENDMENTS
2002—Subsec. (c)(1)(A) to (C). Pub. L. 107–295, § 433(2),
inserted ‘‘by first class mail or’’ before ‘‘by certified
mail’’.
Subsec. (c)(2)(A), (B). Pub. L. 107–295, § 433(1), substituted ‘‘10’’ for ‘‘5’’.

§ 4311. Penalties and injunctions
(a) A person willfully operating a recreational
vessel in violation of this chapter or a regulation prescribed under this chapter shall be fined
not more than $5,000, imprisoned for not more
than one year, or both.
(b)(1) A person violating section 4307(a) of this
title is liable to the United States Government
for a civil penalty of not more than $5,000, except that the maximum civil penalty may be not
more than $250,000 for a related series of violations.
(2) If the Secretary decides under section
4310(f) that a recreational vessel or associated
equipment contains a defect related to safety or
fails to comply with an applicable regulation
and directs the manufacturer to provide the notifications specified in this chapter, any person,

§ 4311

including a director, officer or executive employee of a corporation, who knowingly and
willfully fails to comply with that order, may be
fined not more than $10,000, imprisoned for not
more than one year, or both.
(3) When a corporation violates section 4307(a),
or fails to comply with the Secretary’s decision
under section 4310(f), any director, officer, or executive employee of the corporation who knowingly and willfully ordered, or knowingly and
willfully authorized, a violation is individually
liable to the Government for a penalty under
paragraphs (1) or (2) in addition to the corporation. However, the director, officer, or executive
employee is not liable individually under this
subsection if the director, officer, or executive
employee can demonstrate by a preponderance
of the evidence that—
(A) the order or authorization was issued on
the basis of a decision, in exercising reasonable and prudent judgment, that the defect or
the nonconformity with standards and regulations constituting the violation would not
cause or constitute a substantial risk of personal injury to the public; and
(B) at the time of the order or authorization,
the director, officer, or executive employee advised the Secretary in writing of acting under
this subparagraph and subparagraph (A).
(c) A person violating any other provision of
this chapter or other regulation prescribed
under this chapter is liable to the Government
for a civil penalty of not more than $1,000. If the
violation involves the operation of a vessel, the
vessel also is liable in rem for the penalty.
(d) When a civil penalty of not more than $200
has been assessed under this chapter, the Secretary may refer the matter of collection of the
penalty directly to the United States magistrate
judge of the jurisdiction in which the person liable may be found for collection procedures under
supervision of the district court and under an
order issued by the court delegating this authority under section 636(b) of title 28.
(e) The district courts of the United States
have jurisdiction to restrain a violation of this
chapter, or to restrain the sale, offer for sale, introduction or delivery for introduction into
interstate commerce, or importation into the
United States, of a recreational vessel or associated equipment that the court decides does not
conform to safety standards of the Government.
A civil action under this subsection shall be
brought by filing a petition by the Attorney
General for the Government. When practicable,
the Secretary shall give notice to a person
against whom an action for injunctive relief is
contemplated and provide the person with an opportunity to present views and, except for a
knowing and willful violation, shall provide the
person with a reasonable opportunity to achieve
compliance. The failure to give notice and provide the opportunity does not preclude the
granting of appropriate relief by the district
court.
(f) A person is not subject to a penalty under
this chapter if the person—
(1) establishes that the person did not have
reason to know, in exercising reasonable care,
that a recreational vessel or associated equipment does not conform with the applicable

§ 4501

TITLE 46—SHIPPING

safety standards of the Government or that
the person was not advised by the Secretary or
the manufacturer of that vessel, equipment or
component that the vessel, equipment or component contains a defect which creates a substantial risk of personal injury to the public;
or
(2) holds a certificate issued by the manufacturer of that recreational vessel or associated
equipment to the effect that the recreational
vessel or associated equipment conforms to all
applicable recreational vessel safety standards
of the Government, unless the person knows or
reasonably should have known that the recreational vessel or associated equipment does
not so conform.
(g) Compliance with this chapter or standards,
regulations, or orders prescribed under this
chapter does not relieve a person from liability
at common law or under State law.

Page 84

ized, a violation is individually liable to the Government for the penalty, in addition to the corporation.
However, the director, officer, or executive employee is
not liable individually under this subsection if the director, officer, or executive employee can demonstrate
by a preponderance of the evidence that—
‘‘(1) the order or authorization was issued on the
basis of a decision, in exercising reasonable and prudent judgment, that the defect or the nonconformity
with standards and regulations constituting the violation would not cause or constitute a substantial
risk of personal injury to the public; and
‘‘(2) at the time of the order or authorization, the
director, officer, or executive employee advised the
Secretary in writing of acting under this clause and
clause (1) of this subsection.’’
1984—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 98–557, § 8(b), inserted ‘‘defect or the’’ before ‘‘nonconformity’’.
Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 98–557, § 8(c), inserted provisions
relating to advice by the Secretary or manufacturer of
the vessel, equipment or component respecting defects
creating substantial risk of personal injury to the public.
CHANGE OF NAME

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 534; Pub. L.
98–557, § 8(b), (c), Oct. 30, 1984, 98 Stat. 2862; Pub.
L. 101–650, title III, § 321, Dec. 1, 1990, 104 Stat.
5117; Pub. L. 108–293, title IV, § 406, Aug. 9, 2004,
118 Stat. 1043; Pub. L. 109–241, title IX, § 901(e),
July 11, 2006, 120 Stat. 564.)

‘‘United States magistrate judge’’ substituted for
‘‘United States magistrate’’ in subsec. (d) pursuant to
section 321 of Pub. L. 101–650, set out as a note under
section 631 of Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.

HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES

CHAPTER 45—UNINSPECTED COMMERCIAL
FISHING INDUSTRY VESSELS

Revised section

Source section (U.S. Code)

4311(a) .........................................
4311(b) .........................................
4311(c) .........................................
4311(d) .........................................
4311(e) .........................................
4311(f) ..........................................
4311(g) .........................................

46:1483
46:1484(a)
46:1484(b)
46:1484(d)
46:1485
46:1461(b)
46:1489

Section 4311 provides penalties for violating any of
the provisions of this chapter or a regulation prescribed
under this chapter. For a willful violation the penalty
is a criminal fine; all other penalties are civil in nature.
A person violating any of the prohibited acts specified in section 4307(a)(1) is subject to a maximum civil
penalty that can go as high as a $100,000 for a related
series of violations. However, the section provides for
no liability for good faith reliance on certifications of
compliance by others within the chain of responsibility
and for defects that are not within an individual’s responsibility or control.
This section also contains an alternate procedure for
the collection of a civil penalty of not more than $200
through a U.S. magistrate in lieu of the civil penalty
procedures of the Coast Guard. It also directs the district courts of the United States to restrain the sale,
offer for sale, introduction or delivery for introduction
into interstate commerce, or importation of a recreational vessel or associated equipment that does not
conform to applicable safety standards. Finally, compliance with this chapter or standards, regulations, or
orders does not relieve a person from liability at common law or under State law.
AMENDMENTS
2006—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 109–241 inserted a space
after ‘‘4307(a)’’.
2004—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 108–293 amended subsec. (b)
generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (b) read as follows: ‘‘A person violating section 4307(a)(1) of this title
is liable to the United States Government for a civil
penalty of not more than $2,000, except that the maximum civil penalty may be not more than $100,000 for a
related series of violations. When a corporation violates section 4307(a)(1), any director, officer, or executive employee of the corporation who knowingly and
willfully ordered, or knowingly and willfully author-

Sec.

4501.
4502.
4503.
4504.
4505.
4506.
4507.
4508.

Application.
Safety standards.
Fishing, fish tender, and fish processing vessel certification.
Prohibited acts.
Termination of unsafe operations.
Exemptions.
Penalties.
Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee.
AMENDMENTS

2010—Pub. L. 111–281, title VI, § 604(c)(4), (e)(2), Oct. 15,
2010, 124 Stat. 2965, 2966, substituted ‘‘Fishing, fish tender, and fish processing vessel certification’’ for ‘‘Fish
processing vessel certification’’ in item 4503 and ‘‘Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee’’ for
‘‘Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Advisory
Committee’’ in item 4508.
2002—Pub. L. 107–295, title III, § 331(b), Nov. 25, 2002,
116 Stat. 2105, inserted ‘‘Safety’’ before ‘‘Advisory Committee’’ in item 4508.
1988—Pub. L. 100–424, § 2(a), Sept. 9, 1988, 102 Stat. 1585,
in chapter heading substituted ‘‘UNINSPECTED COMMERCIAL FISHING INDUSTRY VESSELS’’ for ‘‘FISH
PROCESSING VESSELS’’, substituted ‘‘Safety standards’’ for ‘‘Regulations’’ in item 4502, ‘‘Fish processing
vessel certification’’ for ‘‘Equivalency’’ in item 4503,
‘‘Prohibited acts’’ for ‘‘Penalties’’ in item 4504, and
added items 4505 to 4508.

§ 4501. Application
(a) This chapter applies to an uninspected vessel which is a fishing vessel, fish processing vessel, or fish tender vessel.
(b) This chapter does not apply to the carriage
of bulk dangerous cargoes regulated under chapter 37 of this title.
(Added Pub. L. 98–364, title IV, § 402(7)(C), July
17, 1984, 98 Stat. 446; amended Pub. L. 100–424,
§ 2(a), Sept. 9, 1988, 102 Stat. 1585.)
AMENDMENTS
1988—Pub. L. 100–424 amended section generally, in
subsec. (a) substituting provisions which related to un-


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