The rowdy behaviour displayed by some jet ski operators, which places sea bathers, snorkelers and divers in danger, will no longer be accepted.
Speaking during a post-Cabinet press conference at Government Headquarters yesterday, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, lamented that there was an unacceptable level of indiscipline and a lack of order among some jet ski operators, including abuse against visitors, residents and their peers, that had to stop.
However, he has made it clear that it was his intention to bring a sense of discipline to that aspect of maritime affairs through training and continuous collaboration and dialogue.
“It cannot continue. There is a time when you have to review the law, and we are doing that, and there are times when you have to enforce the law,” he stated, noting this would also be done.
Mr. Humphrey disclosed that his Ministry had re-established the National Maritime Interagency Committee to look at all offences occurring within the marine space.
In addition, he reported that meetings were held with the Marine Police Unit of the Royal Barbados Police Force and the Barbados Coast Guard to ensure that the operators remained within the coordinates designated for water sports activities.
He added that the authorities were also seeking to revise some aspects of the Shipping and Water Sports Regulations 2004 legislation, and put measures in place to enforce the penalties.
Under the current legislation, a driver of a jet ski travelling 75 metres offshore must not exceed five knots and must keep clear of all sea bathers. Any person who contravenes that regulation, if found guilty on a summary offence, is liable on conviction to a fine of $3,000 or six months in prison, or in the case of a repeated offence, a fine of $6,000 or 12 months in prison.
However, the Minister noted that under the present law, the revocation of a jet ski licence could only be done in cases of manslaughter caused by a jet ski, or if a person was convicted of repeated offences.
“We have held repeated meetings with a view to having voluntary compliance…and I have made it very clear that going forward we will be enforcing the law and the law is clear in this regard,” the Minister affirmed.
He added that his Ministry would also be offering training to jet ski operators, and those who operate watercrafts, because it was Government’s intention “to move everybody forward”. “There will be training, continued collaboration and continued engagement, but there is time I believe, for new legislation, and we will have to put more teeth in the legislation,” Mr. Humphrey asserted.