Coast Guard Cautions Against Illegal Charter Boats

BALTIMORE – The Coast Guard cautions passengers, who pay to go fishing on the Chesapeake Bay, to avoid boats that do not have licensed captains or has not been inspected by the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard advises passengers to ask boat captains to show their original Coast Guard issued license. If the boat is carrying more than six passengers, it is required to be inspected by the Coast Guard and the Certificate of Inspection should be displayed in an area visible to passengers.

Charter vessels that operate illegally typically do not have formal training for the captain and crew, do not conduct safety drills and exercises or passenger safety briefings and crewmembers are not subject to drug testing. Additionally, the vessel may not carry proper lifesaving and firefighting equipment, railings, navigation equipment or meet the minimum required standards for machinery, hull construction, stability and safety. Illegal charter boats typically charge less because they do not have the burden of meeting these necessary passenger safety requirements.

The number of vessels illegally carrying passengers on charter fishing trips has increased over the last two years as fuel prices have increased.

Areas where illegal activity is most common on the Chesapeake Bay are Kent Island, Crisfield, Solomon’s Island, Ridge Island and Tilghman Island in Maryland.

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One Comment

  1. Ms. Boats says:

    Thank you very much for writing about this. We had an accident back in the mid-90s when my son was just six. He slipped through the railing on a charter boat and fell into the ocean. The boat did not have child sized life preservers and the adult one we thought was tight enough slipped right off him when he hit the water. Luckily there was a former lifeguard on board who dove in and rescued my son. Turns out the boat had not been inspected for several years. Since then we’ve warned everyone we know to check for licenses and inspections before going out on a charter.