The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a public warning following reports of illegal commercial vessel services including water taxis, excursion vessels and transportation services reserved from smartphone applications.
Unlawful operations include:
• Charter services that carry a “Passenger for hire” without a valid Coast Guard issued Merchant Mariner’s Credential suitable for the vessel’s service. “Passenger for hire” is defined as an operator that takes or accepts compensation, including donations, in exchange for services aboard a vessel.
• Bareboat charter services that provide a vessel with a crew/master or carry more than 12 passengers onboard. A "bareboat charter" is defined as paying only for the use of a vessel.
• Charter services that carry more than six passengers, at least one of which are for hire, and are not certificated by the Coast Guard.
“Passengers on board any charter service are reminded to be alert for deceptive practices and should not hesitate to require the vessel operator to produce a valid Coast Guard issued Merchant Mariner’s Credential suitable for the vessel’s service.” explained Captain Martin Malloy, Coast Guard Captain of the Port.
“Credentialed mariners have met rigorous training requirements and inspected vessels have met high safety standards. Passengers are taking an unnecessary safety risk by riding on a vessel without a credentialed mariner in charge or an uninspected vessel that needs to be inspected.”