Social media helps Coast Guard catch boat operating illegally in waters off Marco Island

FILE PHOTO: A Coast Guard Station Los Angeles 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew conducts tactical boat training in the Los Angeles Harbor Oct. 28, 2015. The crews perform the training every six months to maintain proficiency and assess capabilities. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sondra-Kay Kneen)

The Coast Guard says on the weekend following July 4 they terminated a boat operating illegally in the waters off of Marco Island.

According to the Coast Guard, Investigating Officers initially discovered the 23-foot boat advertising on social media and determined that it was not operating in accordance with regulations governing passenger vessels.

A Coast Guard boat stationed in Fort Myers and a small law enforcement crew found the boat operating a commercial passenger service and was not in compliance with multiple regulations governing passenger vessels.

 The following violations were noted during the boarding:

  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100 (a) for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515 (b) for not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 170.120 for failure to have a valid stability letter.

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of over $50,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire operations. Some potential fines for illegally operating a charter vessel are:

Up to $18,477 for failure of an inspected vessel to be under the control of an individual with the appropriate Coast Guard license.

Up to $7,250 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical testing program.

Up to $4,685 for failure to provide a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers.

Up to $15,995 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over 5 gross tons.

Up to $11,712 for failure to have been issued a valid Stability Letter prior to placing vessel in service with more than six passengers.

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