Coast Guard illegal charter enforcement in full swing

With the summer recreational boating season in full swing, Coast Guard teams are carrying out enforcement operations against illegal charter boats on coastal and inland waters.

On 29’ response boat law enforcement crew terminated a voyage Sunday in Boca Ciega Bay on the Florida Gulf coast, following up the lead of Coast Guard investigators who discovered the operator of the 42’ houseboat was advertising passenger service on social media.

A Coast Guard Saint Petersburg, Fla., law enforcement crew , terminated the voyage of a 42' pleasure craft after discovering the vessel was operating as an illegal commercial passenger service. Coast Guard photo

A Coast Guard Saint Petersburg, Fla., law enforcement crew , terminated the voyage of a 42′ pleasure craft after discovering the vessel was operating as an illegal commercial passenger service. Coast Guard photo

When the boat crew and investigators boarded the craft, they found it operating as a party boat, without meeting legal and regulatory requirements. The boarding team found multiple violations including not having a valid Certificate of Inspection, lacking a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel, and failure to have a drug and alcohol monitoring program for crew and a valid stability letter.

Under federal law the owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face civil penalties of more than $50,000 according to Coast Guard officials.

“The Coast Guard will continue to aggressively pursue vessel operators who place the lives of patrons at risk by not complying with Coast Guard passenger vessel regulations,” said Brian Knapp, a senior investigating officer at Coast Guard Sector Saint Petersburg.

“We urge anyone paying for a trip on a passenger vessel to ask to see the Merchant Mariner Credential of the vessel operator to verify their captain is properly credentialed by the Coast Guard.  If the operator cannot produce a Merchant Mariner Credential, don’t get on the boat.”

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    John Seagraves on

    Can someone please spellout the difference between an uninspected vessel legal with only six and a bareboat charter with 12.

  2. Avatar
    Thomas Hilton on

    I do not condone illegal charters in any way, form, or fashion.

    However, it’s not illegal to voluntarily share in the expenses of a fishing trip – some CFA captains are spreading the lie that it is illegal to pay the owner/captain of a recreational vessel for expenses related to fuel, food, bait, ice, etc. That simply is not true.

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