Coast Guard warns illegal passenger vessel operators of stiff fines and penaltie

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Coast Guard warns recreational and commercial boaters of stiff fines and penalties for conducting illegal passenger transport operations in the Port of San Juan during Saint Sebastian Festival celebrations from 15 to 18 January.

Coast Guard boat crews and maritime security officers on land will be increasing security patrols throughout the planned festivities to guarantee the safe and legal transport of passengers inside San Juan Harbor.

When seeking passage across the harbor, the general public is advised to only embark on legitimate commercial vessels operated by a Coast Guard licensed captain and carrying the appropriate lifesaving gear and to further be aware of illegitimate, and potentially unsafe, operators presenting themselves and their vessels for hire.

“The safety and security of people utilizing the navigable waterway and public maritime transport options to access Old San Juan is paramount, especially during Saint Sebastian celebrations when the operational risk is higher due to the hundreds of thousands of people who attend annually,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Meskun, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of inspections. “Illegal passenger vessel operators put the lives of people and their families at risk when they bypass safety requirements.”

Depending on the nature of the offense, violators may be subject to termination of voyage, fines from $15,000 to $250,000 and up to three years in jail.

To report potential illegal passenger vessel operations, the public is encouraged to contact the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at 787-289-2041.

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