The United States Coast Guard’s focus on illegal charter operations continues in full force

The United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) focus on illegal charter operations continues in full force with the latest unlawful operator nabbed in Key West, Florida, just off the community’s legendary Mallory Square. The operator faces fines on up to US$39,936.

On Wednesday last week, a USCG law enforcement crew boarded a 33ft pleasure craft with seven people aboard and cited the Captain for “failure to have an uninspected passenger vessel under the control of a properly licensed individual”, but will not be releasing the names of those cited in accordance with its information policy, according to flkeysnews.com.

The vessel’s transom reads Really Sweet, but a Coast Guard official said that’s not the boat’s registered name and may have been something the owners added themselves.

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of over US$59,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire operations.

For the past two-years, USCG has been stepping up enforcement of illegal charters as the trade has grown, spurred on in part by the growing boat sharing phenomenon and internet advertising.

While efforts are focusing on boating-heavy states like Florida, significant arrests have been made in the last year in Chicago as well as the States of Virginia and Michigan.

“When purchasing a boat charter run by a provided crew, before you step on board the vessel, you should always check to see the captain’s license,” said Lt Katharine Brodie, chief of the investigations division at Coast Guard Sector Key West.