Coast Guard stops illegal charter boat operating on Lake Erie

9th Coast Guard District NewsTOLEDO, Ohio — The Coast Guard stopped an illegal charter boat operation Saturday evening after a vessel captain unlawfully took six paying passengers fishing on Lake Erie near Marblehead, Ohio.

A boarding team from Coast Guard Station Marblehead stopped the illegal fishing trip Saturday evening upon the vessel’s return from an all-day voyage on Lake Erie.

The operator of the charter vessel had a Coast Guard-issued captain’s license, but it was suspended in March 2012 due to a driving-under-the-influence citation.

In addition to operating on a suspended license, the Coast Guard discovered the captain had multiple safety, documentation and pollution prevention violations. As a result, he could face a longer suspension period or revocation of his license.

The operation of a charter vessel without the required vessel documents and operator license is a violation of federal law, and if caught, the captain could be subject to criminal or civil liability. The regulations are in place to help ensure the safety of passengers. Illegal charter boats are typically recreational vessels and are generally operated by a person without the required Coast Guard-issued captain’s license.

Coast Guard-issued captain’s licenses demonstrate that the captain of a commercial vessel has met minimum proficiency requirements in navigation and seamanship rules. A paying passenger cannot be assured of the captain’s competency when the captain does not possess a valid captain’s license. The Coast Guard advises the public to ask the boat’s captain to show them his or her original Coast Guard 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 accessible to passengers. The Certificate of Inspection shows a vessel has met the minimum Coast Guard safety standards in regard to fire-extinguishing systems, manning, vessel de-watering capabilities, and life saving and navigation equipment requirements. It also sets the maximum number of passengers the vessel can carry.

If the public wants to verify a captain’s license or the inspected status of a vessel carrying more than six passengers, or to report an illegal charter operation, they can call Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Toledo at 419-418-6050.

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