With a boating accident that killed two men earlier this month still fresh in people’s minds, North Side Legislative Assembly Member Ezzard Miller is hoping the government will finally introduce greater regulation on maritime vessels.
“In my view, all boats out on the water should be regulated,” Miller said. “Certainly, nobody should be operating commercially without being certified.”
In a statement, Miller said, “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.”
He also thinks commercial boats should be subject to random inspections by authorities.
In 2016, the Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a motion that called for the government to introduce regulations under the Port Authority Law to require people owning boats larger than 21 feet and powered by engines in excess of 150 horsepower to pass a required test on boat safety, rules of navigation, and the general operation of boats in Cayman waters.
However, Miller said, no further action has been taken since the motion was passed.
“There have been several accidents in the Sound in the last few months,” he said. “The police can’t stop anybody because there are no rules.”
There are no regulations requiring a boat operator to have a licence or certificate, and there are also no laws prohibiting drinking and boating.
“You’ve got Rum Point on a Sunday afternoon and you get these people who’ve been drinking all day and they get in their boats,” he said.
Those boats, he added, often pass one another with no regard for basic boating rules. On the west side of the Sound, he said, he often sees boats navigating on the wrong side of the island’s many canals.
Miller said he’s not sure why no action has been taken since 2016.
“I suspect it’s lobbying from people in the industry who don’t want to comply,” he said. “Most are concerned that the people they have in the boats can’t pass [certification].”
He said the regulations would likely lower insurance costs for commercial operators. More importantly, they would make Cayman waters safer, he added.
“These are just sensible rules of the road that everybody should know,” Miller said.
Editor’s note: This story has been amended from the original to reflect that a motion, rather than legislation, was passed in 2016.