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Are parts of the Holston under U.S. Coast Guard jurisdiction? Sure are

• Jul 31, 2017 at 7:45 PM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — The U.S. Coast Guard has made a determination of what sections of the Holston River in Tennessee are considered to be navigable waters falling under USCG jurisdiction.

The question of what lakes, rivers and streams are regulated by the USCG has often been raised by Tennesseans who use the state’s waterways. It makes sense to most people that the Tennessee River is considered to be a navigable waterway, but why are some tributary reservoirs without a lock for navigation considered navigable?

The Coast Guard defines navigable waters of the United States as internal waters not subject to tidal influence that are or have been used, or are or have been susceptible for use, by themselves or in connection with other waters, as highways for substantial interstate or foreign commerce, notwithstanding natural or man-made obstructions that require portage. This definition means that although commercial vessels may not presently be able to navigate on some tributary rivers, such as the Holston River for example, they may still fall under Coast Guard jurisdiction as navigable waters.

According to Lt. Col. Glenn Moates of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, recent communication with the Coast Guard indicates: “The navigability of the Holston River extends to river mile 142.2, which is the confluence of the South Holston and North Holston forks of the river.”

What does this mean to boaters and fishermen on the Holston? Unless you are carrying passengers for hire on the river, this determination probably won’t affect you very much. If you are a hunting or fishing guide on the Holston or operate a boat carrying passengers for hire, however, it determines where the Coast Guard’s Charterboat Captain’s License is required.

Put simply, if you are a hunting or fishing guide carrying passengers in a boat on the Holston River, you are required to be licensed as a USCG Charterboat Captain up to river mile 142.2. From river mile 142.2 up to South Holston Dam, the Charterboat Captain’s License is not required.

In addition, the portion of the Holston River above South Holston dam — in other words, South Holston Reservoir — is considered to be federal waters because it lies within two states and a hunting or fishing guide would be required to be USCG licensed.

According to the USCG website, this license is properly termed “Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels” and is commonly referred to as the “6-pack” or “Charterboat Captain’s License.” The term “6-pack” refers to the six-passenger limitation placed on the license. Enforcement of the law requiring the Charterboat Captain’s License is the responsibility of the USCG.

Although the Charterboat Captain’s License may not be required on all of Tennessee’s waterways, any individual who accepts compensation for providing assistance to another in any act of hunting, fishing and/or trapping and shall be required to possess a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Guide License in addition to any other required licenses. Entities employing individuals as guides may purchase such resident and non-resident guide licenses as may be necessary for its employees.

(Information from Matthew Cameron, TWRA’s information and education coordinator for Region 4.)

Yoest: CWD still not detected in Tennessee

NASHVILLE — Chronic wasting disease was among the topics addressed during the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission’s July meeting.

Chuck Yoest, assistant chief of the Wildlife and Forestry Division, said 25 states now have CWD but, after years of ongoing sampling by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the disease is still not known to exist in Tennessee.

Nevertheless, the potential threat it poses to the deer and elk populations as well as to the sport of hunting is enormous.

CWD is passed through the environment to deer and elk and by direct contact with bodily fluids of positive animals. There are no known cases of humans contracting CWD.

Yoest discussed risk factors for spreading CWD, including: captive deer and elk; infected, hunter-killed carcasses being transported into Tennessee by out-of-state hunters; and the potential of hunters accidentally introducing CWD through the usage of deer urine-based lures commonly used for hunting. Yoest shared with the commission regulatory actions taken by other states which, if adopted in Tennessee, may reduce the likelihood of the disease reaching the state.

Glenn Moates, assistant chief of the Boating and Law Enforcement Division, presented the commission with an update on boating statistics that included two of the major weekends for the season, Memorial Day and Independence Day. There were no boating-related fatalities during the holidays.

The Independence Day holiday was a five-day period that began on Friday, June 30 and ran through Tuesday, July 4. There were five accidents reported during the period, resulting in four injuries.

As of the meeting, held July 20 and 21, there had been eight boating-related fatalities. Three of the fatalities were paddle-craft incidents.

BUI arrests up in Tennessee

MORRISTOWN — With two major summer boating holidays in their wake, TWRA officers made an impact on impaired boaters, especially on particular waterways across Tennessee.

Norris Lake in East Tennessee and J. Percy Priest Lake in Middle Tennessee are two of the state’s busiest waterways and both have produced numerous boating under the influence arrests this year. As of mid-July, TWRA officers had made 23 arrests for BUI on both Norris and J. Percy Priest lakes.

Douglas Lake in East Tennessee also has seen an increase in the arrest of impaired operators, and the TWRA said its officers had made 10 BUI arrests as of mid-July.

“Douglas gets heavily used by families and fishermen but these numbers go to show you that anywhere there are boats, there is likely going to be alcohol as well,” said Matt Cameron, TWRA information and education coordinator.