USCG continues crack down on Bay Area illegal charter boat operations

Written by Marine Log Staff
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The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing its mission to reduce the operation of unlicensed and illegal charter boats in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Coast Guard units have recently boarded more than 50 vessels in the Bay Area to verify captain’s licenses and drug-and-alcohol testing programs, while Coast Guard investigators have conducted focused education and outreach efforts at local marinas and fishing docks to address the growing concern over illegal charters.

Boaters should expect the Coast Guard to be actively engaging with operators to promote safe and legal passenger vessel operations, as all boats carrying passengers for hire are required to hold a Coast Guard license and meet minimum safety standards.

“Our top concern is passenger safety,” said Lt. Anna Funk, Coast Guard Sector San Francisco investigator. “If someone gets underway on an unlicensed, unregulated charter boat, they could be putting themselves and their loved ones in danger. Illegal charter boats and crews have no oversight and may not have the experience or equipment to ensure passengers are safe.”

The Coast Guard says that boat operators who transport paying passengers illegally without a license or without complying with federal safety regulations pose a serious and dangerous risk on the waterways, because they may not have the proper emergency safety gear and navigation and communication equipment aboard their vessel, and they may not have undergone the proper license exams or vessel inspections.

Owners and operators of illegal charter boats can face maximum civil penalties of over $80,000 for illegal passenger for hire operations.

Some potential fines include:

Up to $39,936 for failure to operate a passenger vessel without a Coast Guard license Up to $16,398 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over five net tons Up to $12,007 for failure to have a valid stability letter Up to $7,710 for failure to have a bona fide drug and alcohol testing program Up to $4,591 for failure to provide a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers

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