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Cooper: Ensure watersports industry reserved for Bahamians

The government should ensure that the watersports industry is reserved for Bahamians, Progressive Liberal Party Deputy Leader Chester Cooper charged yesterday.

He was contributing to debate on the Commercial Recreation Watercraft Amendment Bill, 2018 which seeks to provide for the requirements and procedures for the licensing and registration of watercraft and operators and also to create offenses for unlicensed or unregistered craft.

Cooper argued that many young Bahamian men have created robust businesses in the recreational watercraft industry and the government should make sure they are protected and treated fairly in this legislation.

“If we can entrench rights to foreigners in the Commercial Enterprises Act and the on again, off again Immigration Amendment Bill, then it shouldn’t be too much of an issue to say in this legislation that a part of the requirement for conducting watersports is being Bahamian,” Copper said in the House of Assembly.

“What l am alarmed about now is how many foreign craft are entering The Bahamas and conducting tours and fishing expeditions with no permits and operating ‘craft for hire’ and enforcement is limited. Many such incidences are reported. It is alleged that much of it happens under the noses of the port department. However, it appears that not enough is done to police it.”

The bill also amends the definition of an “authorized insurer” to include a company duly licensed in The Bahamas to carry out the business of insurance in respect of craft, personal injury and loss of life arising from accidents, and if not licensed in The Bahamas duly authorized or licensed in another jurisdiction and approved by the minister.

“This conflicts with the Insurance Act and is not best practice. There is a reason why this is not now allowed to happen – mainly so that the competent authority can vet these persons and companies, ensuring they are fit and proper and have the wherewithal to conduct business in the jurisdiction,” he said.

The amendments to the bill are on the recommendation of a report by the Bahamas Maritime Authority following the explosion of a Four C’s Adventures boat in Exuma last June that killed an American woman and left several others injured.

The report recommended that the Port Department enforce the commercial watercraft laws, consider amending the current act to require all self-built boats to undergo a survey, and ensure all necessary resources are available to all port departments in order to regulate the recreational water sports industry.

Paige McCartney

Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas.
Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016.
Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News
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