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A number of issues raised by powerboat operators, predominantly jet skis, are engaging the attention of officials at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy.

And, the parties have already met to discuss and plan a course of action to resolve the challenges in the water sports sector.

That meeting was chaired by Minister Kirk Humphrey.  Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Esworth Reid; Director of Maritime Affairs, Jacqueline Blackman; and representatives from the Royal Barbados Police Force’s Marine Unit and the Barbados Coast Guard attended the meeting held at the BIDC building, recently.

That plan of action will see the operators coming together with law enforcement entities to form a small working group to deal with outstanding issues. “It is better to work as a body than each person trying to plead their own case,” Minister Humphrey said.

He stressed that he had heard the concerns of the operators and gave the assurance that there would be a resolution to the situation.

Mr. Humphrey voiced his agreement with the operators’ calls to stamp out the “bad apples” because they could have tremendous ramifications not just for the industry, but for the entire country.

Stressing that there was a need for discipline on the water, Minister Humphrey also emphasized that the way business was done in Barbados had to change, including the way people spoke to each other.

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He pleaded with the operators not to allow other people’s behaviour to influence their own conduct. “There are things we must do to deescalate situations,” he said.

During the meeting, the operators levelled charges of victimization by some members of the Barbados Coast Guard, and challenges working with those from the Police Marine Unit. They also cited issues of having their vehicles impounded for extended periods of time, thereby affecting their ability to generate income.                                                                                 

In addition, the operators told Minister Humphrey that catamarans were having beach stops in areas where they would usually ply their trade, thereby limiting their operations, and alleged that at least one establishment was deterring its patrons from engaging in water sports activity.

“There are things which are happening out there and we are asking you to come out and see these things for yourself,” one operator told the Minister.

They also called on government to assist in weeding out the “bad apples” on the water who were making it difficult for them to ply their trade. “I beg you not to come at us with a heavy hand or unfair approach,” the operated pleaded.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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