Rough ride

Clarke wants jet ski operators to follow the rules

They are the ZRs of the sea.

That is how the head of the Barbados Coast Guard, Lieutenant Commander Aquinas Clarke, is describing jet ski operators, who he said are hustling for business with little regard for the safety of sea bathers and other sea goers.

Clarke told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that the Coast Guard had to ensure it not only secured the island’s borders, but protect its people [and visitors] as well.

“Even though we got a fall-off in tourist arrivals, we still got a lot of tourists. So you’ve still got to look at the jet skis doing nonsense. We still got to regulate the fishing boats, because even though the season out, they are [still] going to be going out,” the top military official noted.

He lamented that the jet ski operators were continuing to pose a problem in the way they conducted their business and themselves.

“The guys hustle. They are like the ZRs of the sea. You could ever get them men to operate with some level of discipline? Nah!, the Coast Guard commanding officer exclaimed.

Stating that between 200 and 300 jet skis were operating “out there”, the military leader added that the real issue was not with the owners, but those who operated on behalf of them.

“The owners are not necessarily operating. Where we find a jet ski, we stop a jet ski and check it and it’s good, it’s normally the owner operating his own jet ski. Obviously, the investment at him; but it is when you got somebody operating the jet ski for you, that you getting problems,” he contended.

“But they got to hustle and I understand that,” acknowledged Clarke, “but at the end of the day, I can’t let them put people that are sea bathing and other watersports operators in danger.”

He listed some of the major infractions as beaching their vessels, travelling too close to the shoreline, “although the law says you have to be a certain distance away from the shore”.

“You can’t go in areas where people are swimming; you don’t want to be going in too close. These sort of things, you know, could cause accidents. So we monitor them.”

Under the Shipping Act (Watersports Regulations) 2004, no speedboat or small craft shall be driven into, or permitted to enter any area in any habour in such a manner, as to cause any discomfort or danger to a bather.

The act also requires that no person shall take any speedboat, ski, surfboard or any other small craft within an area that is enclosed.

It also “prevents” speedboats from passing any closer to a float than 50 metres.

Divers are urged, too, to proceed with caution when moving outside of the area marked with orange coloured buoys where persons engaged in watersports are required to operate.


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