Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife stop illegal charter near Miami River

The Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife terminated an illegal charter of the 38-foot vessel, Bluefin, north of Miami River, Jan. 23 2021. The vessel had 13 people aboard: 11 were passengers for hire and two crew members operating as an illegal small passenger vessel due to the bareboat charter agreement missing the owner’s signature. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo)

The Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife terminated an illegal charter of the 38-foot vessel, Bluefin, north of Miami River, Jan. 23 2021.  (U.S. Coast Guard Photo)

MIAMI — The Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife terminated an illegal charter of the 38-foot vessel, Bluefin, Saturday north of Miami River.

A Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement team conducted a boarding of the vessel with 13 people aboard: 11 were passengers for hire and two crew members operating as an illegal small passenger vessel due to the bareboat charter agreement missing the owner’s signature.

The voyage was terminated and cited for the following violations:

  1. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100(a)- for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection.
  2. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 180.71- for failure to ensure there are appropriate number of life jackets for every person aboard
  3. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201- for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.
  4. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515(b)- for failure to have a credential mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel.
  5. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.401(a)- for failure to employ an appropriately credentialed mariner.

“A bareboat charter is not valid unless both the charterer and owner sign the bareboat charter agreement, this gives the charterer control of the vessel,” said Lt. Jody Stiger, Marine Investigator at Sector Miami. “Before going on a bareboat charter, ensure the owner of the vessel has signed the bareboat charter agreement prior to going underway.”

Owners and operators of illegal passenger vessels can face maximum civil penalties of $60,000 or over for illegal passenger-for-hire-operations. Charters that violate a Captain of the Port Order can face over $95,000. Some potential civil penalties for illegally operating a passenger vessel are:

  • Up to $7,846 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical testing program.
  • Up to $4,888 for failure to provide a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers for hire.
  • Up to $16,687 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over 5 gross tons.
  • Up to $12,219 for failure to have been issued a valid Stability Letter prior to placing vessel in service with more than six passengers for hire.
  • Up to $95,881 for every day of failure to comply with a Captain of the Port Order.

Anyone with information regarding an illegal charter is encouraged to contact CGIS.

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