There are markers for navigation and also markers for fishing regulations.
Warning navigation markers can be in place to mark rocks or hazards that may not be readily visible at all tides, sitting just under shallow water. These markers may have a light on them as well.
In a narrow channel or shallow waters, navigation markers are set up to assist boats in safely getting through the waters. These generally consist of two large, flat pieces set apart from each other, each with a vertical stripe up the centre. When boats are moving through the channel, by sighting these markers so that the vertical lines are perfectly stacked they will be in the optimal spot for moving through the channel. These are known as range markers.
When fishing in amongst the islands and just off the coast, it is the responsibility of the person fishing to know and follow the regulations set out by the Department of Fisheries. These regulations include closures, places in the water where fishing is not allowed, or is only allowed to certain sectors of the fishing community (commercial, sport, etc). These areas are marked by boundary markers visible from the water, some newer than others, some faded with time (many boundaries have been in place for years).
The markers are generally a triangle and a square, although there is no clear definition on the DFO website as to which is used when and generally the regulations will simply say "between the boundary markers at ..." Whenever you see one of these markers, search the shore opposite (often in a bay) for its mate. Line the two markers up, and the "invisible line" between the two markers is your boundary. You don't want to get caught on the wrong side of the line, as there can be hefty fines!
The waters around Vancouver Island are busy, and these signs and markers can be considered the traffic and information signs of the water highway. If you are going to be spending time on the water, knowing what these signs mean will keep you safe (and out of trouble).
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