Chicago Coast Guard units host training seminar to discuss illegal boating on Great Lakes

Cmdr. Zeita Merchant, commanding officer of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago, discusses issues related to illegal charter boating during a training seminar in Chicago, May 17, 2018. Boarding Officers, Intelligence Officers, Marine Inspectors and Marine Investigators from as far away as Michigan, Wisconsin and New York received training on topics that included public outreach and education, how to recognize potential illegal charter vessels, boarding procedures, and Coast Guard regulations. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Master Chief Alan Haraf)

Cmdr. Zeita Merchant, commanding officer of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago, discusses issues related to illegal charter boating during a training seminar in Chicago, May 17, 2018.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Master Chief Alan Haraf)

CHICAGO — Chicago Coast Guard units hosted a week-long training seminar for Coast Guard stations, prevention departments and intelligence divisions from around the Great Lakes region to discuss the topic of illegal passenger vessel operations.

Boarding officers, intelligence officers, marine inspectors and marine investigators from as far away as Michigan, Wisconsin and New York received training on topics that included public outreach and education, how to recognize potential illegal charter vessels, boarding procedures, and Coast Guard regulations.

Speakers from Illinois Department of Natural Resources also shared best practices from last summer when the Coast Guard, in coordination with IDNR, terminated the voyages of 22 vessels for conducting illegal charter operations on Lake Michigan and the Illinois River near Starved Rock.

“Operators of vessels who are unlicensed and transporting paying passengers put those passengers and other boaters as risk,” said Cmdr. Zeita Merchant, commanding officer of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago. “Our goal is to educate vessel operators and the public about the concerns, consequences and dangers of this issue. We’re also here to help those vessel operators who are unaware they are operating illegally and who want to come into compliance.”

Coast Guard and IDNR will be patrolling the Chicago area waterways this summer, keeping the waterways safe by enforcing federal and state boating regulations.

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