The Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) is calling on boat captains and sea-going holidaymakers to be vigilant in ensuring safety, particularly this holiday season.
In an interview with JIS News, Director of Safety, Environment and Certification at the MAJ, Captain Stephen Spence, said it is important for persons to be aware of procedures before taking vessels out to sea.
“We are aware that leisure seekers will be travelling by boat to the offshore cays during the holidays, particularly between Emancipation and Independence,” he said.
“People tend to make frequent trips along the Blue Lagoon, Lime Cay, Maiden Cay and Pelican Cay, and we think it is very important that users of the sea, not just the operators, be very vigilant and observe some safety practices,” he added.
According to Captain Spence, persons are to ensure that the vessels are registered and that the operators are licensed before embarking on those vessels.
He pointed out that members of the public are within their right to ask to see the registration certificates and the coxswain (boat captain) licence for the boat operators. The coxswain licence is normally displayed, some around the neck on the lanyard, and if it is not displayed, the travelling public can ask to see it.
“There is a seagoing safety certificate that the operators should have. It is to be displayed in a noticeable position, although that may not be the case if it is an open vessel. It should, however, be on board,” Captain Spence said.
He pointed out that the safety certificate lists the conditions of operation, including weather conditions, the number of persons who are allowed to be on board and the number of life jackets on board.
“The seagoing safety certificate indicates the type of vessel and it will specify if it is a passenger vessel or a fishing vessel which is allowed to take persons to engage in fishing,” he said.
Captain Spence emphasised that the crew has a responsibility to ensure that the passengers are fully aware of all safety procedures.
“We are also asking the public to ensure that before the vessel leaves the place of embarkation, that a safety brief be carried by the captain,” he said.
He said that captains should be licensed by the MAJ, so there is an examination that they are required to sit. When they pass, they will be certified and all certified operators are expected to go through the safety brief.
Captain Spence also advised that persons should not proceed on these trips unless the weather is favourable and that they should only venture out during daytime hours.