HomeBoat InsuranceAct amendment mandates boat insurance

Act amendment mandates boat insurance

ENERGY and Transport Minister JoBeth Coleby Davis. Photo: Dante Carrer

ENERGY and Transport Minister JoBeth Coleby Davis. Photo: Dante Carrer


Tribune Staff Reporter


AMENDMENTS to the Boat Registration Act that passed the House of Assembly yesterday mandates that boat owners have a comprehensive insurance policy and outlines inspection requirements and registration fees.

The changes are contained in the Boat Registration Amendment Bill 2024 and the Water Skiing and Motor Boat Control Amendment Bill.

Transport and Energy Minister Jobeth Coleby-Davis said the boat registration amendment bill would strengthen inspection requirements under the Boat Registration Act by requiring every boat to be submitted for inspection to the New Providence Port Authority before being registered. The Port Authority should also be provided with a record of crew training, surveys conducted in the last 12 months, a history of dry docking, and boat maintenance records.

 Boat owners and operators of vessels registered for “to ply or for hire” in Bahamian waters are expected to get and maintain comprehensive insurance.

 “These amendments are designed to strengthen the safety oversight of the industry by the Port Department,” Mrs Coleby-Davis said.

 Penalties for boat owners will be increased.

 Owners who do not register their boats, complete inspections, or have valid insurance policies are subject to a penalty of not less than $5,000 and not exceeding $10,000.

 Another penalty of not less than $1,000 and not exceeding $5,000 is possible for any person who acts as master of a boat for hire or employs any other person to do so without first obtaining a licence under the law.

 Mrs Coleby-Davis addressed the criticism the government received due to increasing registration fees.

 “As minister with responsibility for transport, I acknowledge that in some quarters, the fees outlined in the schedules of both Bills will be criticised. However, it is important to note that the fees have not been adjusted in over 20 years. Additionally, we have taken the necessary steps to cushion the owners and operators of small boats — which are primarily used by our fishermen and small tour operators — from the increase in fares,” she said.

 Housing and Urban Development Minister Keith Bell said unlike other laws where fees are regularly reviewed and adjusted, the fees associated with the boat laws remained stagnant.

 St Anne’s MP Adrian White questioned whether the amendments make the revised fees retroactive to July 1, 2023, but Mrs Coleby-Davis said: “We advised the industry and we are now assisting and preparing for them to have that registration come into effect for March 2024. And so those persons will be able to receive the benefit of the amended bills and the new fees.”

 The Opposition voted against the bills.

 East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson said the boat fees were implemented without consultation and the government is ignoring the impact the fees will have on small boaters and fishermen.

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