First Look

Further measures introduced to regulate Jet Ski operations



Ministry of Tourism | 2014-02-19 00:00:00

Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has announced the extension of the ban on the importation of all Personal Water Crafts (PWCs) for a further six months, until October 15, 2014. This time around, however, the ban will be on all PWCs, commonly called jet skis, and not just commercial ones.

The new measures to regulate PWC operations across the island were recently approved by Cabinet and come in the wake of limited compliance to previous short term steps to regulate these operations. These include a 6-month ban on the importation of jet skis for commercial purposes, which was introduced in October 2013, amid growing concerns about the number of accidents in Jamaica’s marine recreational areas, some of which have resulted in fatalities and serious injury.

In announcing the additional measures in Parliament today, February 18, 2014, Minister McNeill said, “given the urgency of the concerns at hand, and the impact on the tourism industry and livelihoods of many, the Ministry and a new Task Force will actively proceed with the implementation of critical measures needed to streamline both private and commercial PWC operations across the island as quickly as possible.”
In addition to the importation ban, there will be a temporary suspension of the operations of all PWCs across the island; the lifting of the moratorium on licensing new commercial operators in order to allow for the regularization of the commercial operations; and steps to be taken by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) to register all PWCs in the island. Upon registration, PWC operators will be issued with registration certificates and decals. These decals, which will be provided in two colour codes to distinguish between private and commercial crafts, are expected to be available within a week.

Cabinet has also approved measures for the amendment of the Tourist Board Act (1955) to allow fines to be increased from the present maximum of $20,000 to $500,000 for breaches of the act, and the amendment of the Tourist Board (Water Sports) Regulations (1985) to give the Crown the power to dispose of water sport vessels seized and to prohibit a child under 17 years of age from operating commercial jet skis without an accompanying adult.

The task force that has been formed to effect these changes comprises representatives from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Jamaica Customs, Jamaica Defence Force, Jamaica Tourist Board, MAJ, Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, National Environment and Planning Agency, Port Authority of Jamaica and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).

“Guided by the task force, the suspension on the operations will be lifted in each area as the relevant measures identified and regulations put in place are implemented and persons become compliant,” said Minister McNeill. “For example, based on the state of readiness of the Ocho Rios Bay (UDC Beach), they should be able to come on stream as soon as they re-apply and obtain their decals from the Maritime Authority of Jamaica. But this process can only move as quickly as persons in the industry conform and comply with requirements,” added the Minister.

Amongst the measures being implemented to bring these locations on stream will be the enforcement of a number of regulations, including:
• Identification of specific launch zones determined by the Task Force
• Prohibition of PWCs operating within 200m of the sea-shore
• Adherence to no wake zones within 200m
• All PWCs will have to be licensed and possess decals
• All commercial operators will be required to undergo training
• All commercial operators will provide minimum training to persons accessing their services.




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