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Indiana Natural Resources Commission

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Indiana Natural Resources Commission

NRC > Lake Michigan & Other Navigable Waters > Indiana Boating Laws > Foreword Foreword

Since an initiative in the late 1990s by the Lake Michigan Coastal Program and officials in Northwest Indiana, the Natural Resources Commission has assisted with online information concerning boating safety and boating laws to improve the safety record on Indiana waters of Lake Michigan and adjacent navigable streams.  The support of boaters is critical to this effort.  In addition, boaters have a major role in supporting the environmental health of the lake. Concerns for occasional bacterial contamination of Lake Michigan and its beaches mean that boaters must properly dispose of sewage at pumpout facilities. The spread of zebra mussels, gobies, and other aquatic nuisance species can be slowed or stopped by a conscientious boating public.

Boating Laws on the Indiana Waters of Lake Michigan is one effort to provide better public information. Maps and tables identify marinas, gaming boats, and swimming beaches. State and federal boating laws are compiled and indexed, including selected rules and regulations. Sewage collection control from boats is emphasized, and pumpout facilities are located. Efforts are previewed to control or slow the spread of "aquatic nuisance species." In addition, boating education courses are made more accessible. For more information regarding boating in Indiana, with an emphasis on the state's many inland waters, see the The Handbook of Indiana Boating Laws and Responsibilities.

This publication is arranged in two basic parts. The first part follows the Foreword and includes useful information such as a general shoreline map, how public marinas and gaming boats may be accessed, marina facilities, pumpout locations and requirements, and efforts to control aquatic nuisance species. The second part begins with an unofficial listing of the Ten Most Violated Boating Laws on Lake Michigan, and then provides an extensive compilation of boating laws that apply to the Indiana waters of Lake Michigan.

Although the publication does not include every possible violation, the effort is to provide a reasonably comprehensive compilation of laws that might impact the recreational or pleasure boater on Lake Michigan. The compilation is lengthy. There are two major reasons:

First, both federal and state laws apply. Lake Michigan is part of the Great Lakes, the world's greatest international freshwater system. This publication reflects its international character with the presence of the U.S. Coast Guard. Indiana state laws also govern the lake.

Second, the diversity of boats and the dangers presented by the open waters of Lake Michigan make safety regulations diverse and demanding. There are differing regulations for vessels of different size, for motorboats, for personal watercraft, and for sailboats.

Your comments and suggestions for improvement will be appreciated. Call (317) 233-3322 or send your email comments to or to