News

Jet ski operators put on warning

Tuesday, July 29, 2014    

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THE Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) says there will be a zero tolerance approach to private and commercial jet ski operators who refuse to adhere to the regulations governing the industry.

"You can only operate if you are commercially registered, otherwise you cannot ply out there for business, and if you are going to operate privately you cannot be on the public beaches. Anybody who contravenes this, the team will be out there to address this," Executive Director of the TPDCo Dennis Hickey has warned.

Highlighting some of the main conditions which persons must observe, Hickey said all operators must be registered with the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) and "have identification numbers in the form of decals -- one set of decals for those who are commercially licensed and another type, colour- coded, for those privately licensed. "So, if you have never been licensed by the MAJ, the law allows for the seizure until you have satisfied the requirements to be licensed," Hickey told JIS News.

The TPDCo executive director, at the same time, warned that jet skis registered for private use cannot be utilised commercially.

"We have lifted the ban of all private jet ski operation across the country with some limitations. Private jet skis cannot operate from certain areas, such as the Blue Lagoon in Portland, licensed beaches, public bathing beaches, including those in Negril, Montego Bay and Hellshire Beach and others in St. Ann," Hickey pointed out.

Another measure implemented is for the owners and operators of private and commercial launch sites to inform the MAJ of these sites, to facilitate the effective monitoring of the activities across the island.

A launch site, said the TPDCo, refers to an area on the foreshore (a channel between 20 and 40 metres wide) through which jet skis are permitted to leave and return. Personal Watercraft (PWCs) or jet skis will be launched from such sites, in accordance with specific guidelines and recommendations, which include the existence of a ramp or other suitable area for the safe launching of the PWC and erection of prescribed signage.

Hickey said a task force was established as one of the measures to bring jet ski operation under stronger management. The task force is being guided by the MAJ and TPDCo, with enforcement by the Marine Police Division.

"We are supporting the marine police with resources necessary to ensure that the enforcement takes place. We have put the measures in place and the instruction to the various parties is that once there is a breach, we must deal with it and we are determined to bring some order to the system," Hickey said.

He said there is consultation underway with both private and commercial operators, as TPDCo and its affiliates work at regularising the industry.

"With the holidays coming up, we have been advised that additional resources will be put on the ground and we strongly believe that the guests can have the comfort of the beaches, while we keep those people who do not want to obey the rules out of the water," he said.

Since July 18, the operation of private PWCs was re-opened across the island for licensed PWC users. This was after an islandwide ban was imposed in February to allow for the regularisation of the commercial operations; and for steps to be taken by the MAJ to register all PWCs or jet skis in the island.

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