Move towards tighter regulations for commercial and recreational boating follows spate of recent on-water accidents

The move toward commercial and recreational boating regulations for the Cayman Islands is gaining momentum with the nation’s Coast Guard Commandant joining the push and drafting regulations that would apply to commercial vessels operating in the islands with laws for private boaters to follow.

The move toward tighter regulations across the board is supported by many commercial boating operations, following a spate of recent on-water accidents and a growing number of boats on the water.

Ronnie Anglin, director and president of Captain Marvin’s tour and charter company, told the Cayman Compass greater regulation should have been implemented long ago.

“It’s been talked about for some time,” Anglin said, “and it’s overdue. If we don’t do something soon, we’re going to regret it.”

A series of boating regulations for commercial and private vessels were passed in 2016, but never enacted into law, nor was an enforcement mechanism established.

Cayman Island Coast Guard Commandant Robert Scotland said a working group was formed in May to “achieve compliance with the International Maritime Organization III Code, with amendments to the Merchant Shipping Law expected to be presented in the coming weeks.” Scotland said private boat rules should be expected shortly thereafter.

Last week, Legislative Assembly Member Ezzard Miller said that in addition to requirements for a boat operators license, “new safety regulations should extend to requiring registration of all boats in the Cayman Islands and annual inspection similar to that for vehicles on land.”

Scotland said that a focus will be put on Operating Under the Influence provisions to help curb impaired boating, which all involve see as a growing problem.

At Harbour House Marina, near the site of the recent double-fatal accident, general manager Jonathan Cuff said additional regulations “would be a good thing for Cayman”.

At the same time, he said, he does not think such regulations would make a significant difference for the majority of those out on the water.

“We have seen an improvement in the attitudes of boaters over the last few years,” Cuff said. “I have noticed, particularly since [a tragic 2016 fatal boating accident], most boaters are taking safety more seriously.