Coast Guard warns of illegal charters in San Diego

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(SAN DIEGO) — The Coast Guard is warning vessel operators and the general public to be on the lookout for illegal charter boats operating in the San Diego area.

The Coast Guard enforces federal regulations for charter vessels and crews to ensure the safety of all persons at sea. Illegal charters do not meet these regulations.

“Licensed operators have earned this designation for a reason,” said Cmdr. Kris Szczechowicz, chief of the preventions at Coast Guard Sector San Diego. “These operators have proven that they can adhere to safety standards and regulations in order to provide the safest experience possible for passengers. The marine environment is not where you should put your life in the hands of someone who is not trained.”

Any vessel carrying passengers for monetary gain, including any form of economic benefit, or a donation as a condition of carriage, requires that vessel be operated by a Coast Guard-credentialed mariner and has onboard a current certificate of documentation or state registration.

Common examples of operations that must meet these requirements include but are not limited to purchasing tickets to ride powerboats, renting a moored vessel as a bed and breakfast, paying to ride water jet devices, or requiring fuel, food or beverage as a mandatory contribution to a fishing trip.

In addition, if carrying more than six passengers, the vessel must have a valid certificate of inspection issued by the Coast Guard. A valid certificate of inspection is proof that the Coast Guard has verified that the vessel meets specific minimum federal safety standards, outlines passenger and crew manning requirements, and defines navigation routes allowed.

Vessels that do not meet these standards pose serious safety concerns to the public and environment, and may adversely impact the livelihood of legitimate operators.

When reserving trips, prospective passengers are encouraged to ask the operator in advance for proof the vessel is compliant with Coast Guard requirements. Passengers may also request a vessel’s captain to show his or her valid Coast Guard credential.

To verify a captain’s license, the inspected status of a commercial passenger vessel, report an illegal charter operation, or if a vessel operator desires more information on how to meet federal requirements, call Coast Guard Sector San Diego at (619) 278-7033.

By Professional Mariner Staff