U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego recently stopped three charter boats that had been illegally operating in San Diego Bay, officials confirmed April 14.
The three charters were shut down because of “unsafe overloading conditions, insufficient lifesaving equipment and failure to provide a qualified or licensed operator while carrying passengers for hire,” according to the USCG.
The vessels cannot operate, the USCG said, until they can prove that they have met all valid charter requirements.
“Illegal charters are a serious risk to their passengers and to other boat operators on the water,” Sector San Diego Cmdr. Ronald Caputo said. “There is a reason for the regulations we put in place; we don’t want lives to be lost. We urge anyone suspecting that a vessel is violating the law to report the alleged violation to Coast Guard Sector San Diego.”
Illegal charter operators can be fined more than $59,000, while charters that violate a captain of the port order could be subject to more than $500,000 in penalties and face Class D felony charges.
The Coast Guard suggests that passengers make sure the captain has a safety plan and a Merchant Mariner Credential before booking a trip. If the boat is hosting more than six passengers, they should ask for a Coast Guard issued Certificate of Inspection.