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When you purchase fuel for your boat, you pay state and federal Liquid Fuels Taxes. The state tax is refunded to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) where it is used to provide benefits for boaters. The amount of tax refunded to the PFBC by the State Treasury is based on the fuel usage information you supply when completing the Boat Fuel Usage Survey.

About the Boat Fuel Usage Survey

The PFBC periodically surveys registered boat owners seeking information on the amount of fuel purchased for their boats. The surveys are conducted by an independent research firm on behalf of the PFBC.

    • Postcard and email invitations are sent to a random sampling of owners with a registered boat.
    • Invitations contains a single-use link to an online survey where boat owners will be asked six questions intended to help them recall the number of gallons of fuel purchased and consumed.
    • The questions are designed to gather information about the number of times the boat was used, the average amount of fuel used per trip, the number of times fuel was purchased and the average number so gallons purchased.
    • Answers to these questions are tallied and used to calculate the estimated fuel usage for all registered boats.


Boat Access Area Maintenance and Development – There are nearly 800 publicly accessible access areas, also known as boat launches, located throughout the Commonwealth. The PFBC owns, leases or manages over 300 of these sites. The PFBC spends more than $2.0 million annually on these facilities for routine maintenance services like grass cutting, litter pickup, ramp and dock repairs, parking lot paving and grading, and the clearing of flood damages and debris.

Water Trails – Water trails are boat routes suitable for canoes, kayaks and some motorized watercraft. Like conventional trails, water trails are recreational corridors between specific locations. The PFBC provides technical assistance and guidance to water trail managers to support the local development and stewardship of water trail access points, boat launches, day use sites, and – in some cases – overnight camping areas. To find a water trail near you, visit our Water Trail Guides webpage for more information.

Boating Handbook – This convenient handbook provides boaters with information they need to know to have a safe and enjoyable experience when operating watercraft on Pennsylvania waterways. It recaps boating regulations and includes information and tips to follow while boating. To learn more about our regulations and ensure a safe and enjoyable time on the water, please read the Pennsylvania Boating Handbook.

Accident Investigation – The PFBC investigates boating accidents and reviews accident reports submitted by boaters. Accident analysis and statistics assist the PFBC and the U.S. Coast Guard with establishing appropriate educational programs and legal requirements to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone on the water.

Aids to Navigation – The PFBC maintains the Commonwealth’s Aids to Navigation System, the waterways’ road signs. This system was developed by the USCG to warn and advise recreational boaters of natural or artificial obstructions or hazards, and to mark restricted or controlled areas. Buoys, beacons, signs and other on-the-water markers help guide boaters by warning them of dangers, advising them of special marine situations, and aiding them in finding their way.

Boating Safety Education – Boating safety education is important, even for experienced boaters. The PFBC administers a nationally-approved boating safety education program and issues Boating Safety Education Certificates to people who successfully complete an approved course. To learn more about our boating safety education courses, please visit our Boating Courses & Safety Certificates page.

Law Enforcement PFBC Waterways Conservation Officers (WCOs) are specially trained police officers that focus on all aspects of watercraft safety. WCOs enforce all boating laws and investigate boating accidents. WCOs work to detect, apprehend and prosecute alcohol-impaired and drug-impaired watercraft operators. They also assist with presenting boating safety education classes.