New vessel boarding laws a concern
BOATS that break from their moorings or drag anchor as a result of the severe weather conditions will either run aground or collide with other vessels unless Coast Guard gets permission from the owners to hop on board.
It is now mandatory that the vessel’s owner is contacted and consent is given so that Coast Guard members may go on board the vessel in their absence to assist.
Tin Can Bay Coast Guard Commander Jim George said during the past few months Coast Guard had experienced extremes of weather including prolonged periods of strong windy, gusty conditions and rain periods and there were many vessels moored or anchored in designated areas around the Tin Can Bay Inlet, Snapper Creek, and Crab Creek areas.
He said his team was always willing and ready to assist owners of these vessels if they have dragged anchor or broken away from their moorings and consequently are drifting at the whim of the wind and tide however, new laws meant their hands were tied.
“To assist without first obtaining the owner’s consent could put us in a position where we could be accused of unlawfully boarding the vessel, and we could be held responsible for any damage incurred, and that could well lead to litigation claims,” Mr George said.
“The Water Police and Harbour Masters will not, and can not, issue the consent to the Coast Guard crews to board vessels in such cases and for the same reasons.
“We are therefore urging all vessel owners to contact Coast Guard to provide us with their contact details and give us permission to assist in such circumstances.”