Today’s Editorial February 09: Boat safety essential

Those who ignore boat safety regulations beware:

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has said it will increase sea patrols and the enforcement of boating regulations over the next year.

And, to add even more bite to the crackdown, the Department of Environment Enforcement staff might be assisting in citing boat operators who are breaking the law.

The RCIPS will be aided greatly in the new enforcement push by the construction of the $5 million marine base in Newlands and the addition of several boats or other watercraft that will increase police presence on our waters and particularly in the North Sound.

This crackdown on boat safety regulations is much needed.

Some boat operators in the North Sound say others in their industry are flouting the laws when it comes to boat safety regulations. This is completely unacceptable, especially in a tourist destination like the Cayman Islands.

Each day, hundreds if not thousands of tourists entrust their lives to boat operators in the Cayman Islands. Most of these tourists are coming from countries that have strict boat safety laws that are enforced vigorously. They therefore assume the Cayman Islands, with its sophisticated financial industry and modern infrastructure, also has strict boat safety laws that are enforced by the police or others.

It is with good reason that the Cayman Islands and most other countries have boat safety regulations: thousands of people die in boating accidents each year in the world. And people die here in boating accidents, too.

Increasing enforcement of Cayman’s boat safety regulations will help identify and rein-in the boat operators who think they are above the law, whose pursuit of financial gain is placed higher than the lives of people who think they are safe going on a boat outing here.

Some of Cayman’s older boat captains may resent the increased enforcement, noting that they were able to run incident-free operations for years doing things exactly the way they are now.

However, the conditions on Cayman’s waters have changed over the years. The number of people taking trips on boats here has increased dramatically, as have the number of boats offering these trips. With increased numbers of passengers and boats come increased risks, and the necessity for doing things differently.