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Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

Boat Ramps & Boat Launches in Buzzards Bay

Related pages: Nautical Charts  |   Sailing Clubs  |   Fishing  |   Boat Pumpouts  |   Public Access  |   Weather & Tides


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Access Issues

Generally, boat ramps and launches that are owned by the State or Municipal government are open for use to any citizen of the Commonwealth. Municipalities, may however limit or preclude non-resident parking in municipal boat launch parking lots. Very rarely has a municipality restricted the use of a public facility like a boat ramp to residents only (e.g., theoretically you could use a ramp, then park at a friend's house). We are aware of only one Buzzards Bay municipality that requires a resident sticker to use the Town's ramp.

Fees

Very few state owned or municipal owned boat ramps charge a fee for the use of the ramp. However, municipalities often charge parking fees, or require beach parking stickers to park in boat ramp parking lots.

All state owned facilities, or municipal facilities that have been funded in part or whole by state funds, must provide equal access to all Massachusetts residents. That is, they cannot charge out-of-towners a higher use fee, or prevent use by non-residents (go to the Massachusetts Public Access Board Link below for more information on this). If a municipal ramp has not received state funds, theoretically a higher non-resident fee could be applied for use, but we are unaware of this practice, and there are probably complicated technical and legal issues precluding such a fee system.

Mattapoisett Harbor 9-24-04

Public Access to the Ocean

Private and municipal property in Massachusetts is typically owned to the low water mark, but lands below the low water mark are owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Moreover, Chapter 91 of the Massachusetts General Laws preserves the public's right to fish, fowl, and navigate waters of the Commonwealth in the intertidal zone (between the high and low water marks), even if it is privately owned. This law does not convey the right to cross private property to reach these areas. All docks, piers, and boat ramps in Massachusetts require a Chapter 91 waterways license from DEP. As a condition of these licenses and their renewals, DEP now often requires that private marinas allow use of their boat ramps to the public, although they have a right to charge a fee for the use of the boat ramp. Not all private marinas have been required to allow public access to their boat ramps. Some Chapter 91 licenses provide for public access to intertidal areas.

For a more detailed explanation of these issues and public access rights, visit these Commonwealth of Massachusetts websites:

Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management's Page on Public Access to the Shoreline

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's Chapter 91 Waterway Licensing Program

Massachusetts Public Access Board (DFWELE)

A 1999 BBP response to a Town of Mattapoisett request for info on use of funds for public access ( a 48 kb PDF file).


List by Watershed Town and Map

Oil Spill Access Point Directions including Boat Ramps (pdf file)
(Printed driving directions to most Buzzards Bay boat ramps prepared by the BBAC for the Oil Spill Response Manual)

Bourne Dartmouth Falmouth Marion

Mattapoisett New Bedford Wareham Westport

Boat Ramps funded in part by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts


Boat Sewage No Discharge Area Info

No Discharge Area Fact sheet for Buzzards Bay

Buzzards Bay No Discharge Area 1999 Press release

Buzzards Bay Boat Pumpout Locations


Important Numbers:

U.S. Coast Guard Station: Cape Cod Canal, Sandwich, MA 508-888-0020
U.S. Coast Guard Station: Woods Hole, MA 508-457-3253
Search & Rescue Emergencies: Cape & Islands - 457-3210
The Coast Guard Monitors Channel 16 (2182 kHz) & Channel 22 (157.1 mHz),
Call the Coast Guard on Channels 12 & 22


Coast Guard Announcements

USCG MSO Providence Main Page