What does the applicable Cayman legislation require regarding provision of life jackets/lifesaving equipment on locally licensed boats, particularly those that take tourists out on North Sound trips to places like Stingray City, or on deep sea fishing trips around the island and further offshore? This in the context of recent articles in the press expressing concerns about overloading boats carrying tourists.
Auntie’s answer: This does seem a very good time of year to be asking this question with the start of the high tourist season. Yes, as you mention, this concern has been covered in the press (See Marine cops warn captains not to overload boats), but the issue is a recurring one so I am glad it is being discussed again.
I asked the police for clarification and, once again, received a very prompt and thorough reply from the RCIPS on behalf of the Joint Marine Unit. Both situations – provision of life jackets and overloaded boats – are covered under the law.
The police representative explained that the provision of safety equipment comes under the Port Regulations (2011 Revision) in Sections 80-83. The first three sections refer to varying boat lengths but the important thing to note is that whether the vessel is just over eight feet long or more than 40 feet long, if they are not propelled by oars or paddles, there needs to be a life jacket for each person on board.
Section 83 says that vessels travelling beyond territorial waters “shall be equipped with a radio telephone or other wireless apparatus, in effective working condition, capable of emitting distress signals”.
Anyone who is in violation of these sections is liable for prosecution and can receive a summons to appear before the court.
Additionally, any person found in contravention of Section 214 of the Penal Code, which is “Conveying person for hire in any unsafe or overloaded conveyance”, can be warned for intended prosecution and summons before a judge to answer for the offence.
The police representative added, “Please note that even though it may look like a vessel is overloaded these persons might be within the law, as the Port Authority sets the limit on the vessel based on the manufacturer’s specifications, which can be up to 100 people.”
One other thing to consider is that “this is a gray area as some of the vessels are quite old and don’t have the specs”.
While regulations under the Port Authority Law would make that agency the primary entity involved in inspections, the police official said, “It’s one of the roles we play in terms of enforcement and have been targeting of late.”
The laws mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library
Category: Ask Auntie