Act amendment mandates boat insurance

ENERGY and Transport Minister JoBeth Coleby Davis. Photo: Dante Carrer

ENERGY and Transport Minister JoBeth Coleby Davis. Photo: Dante Carrer


Tribune Staff Reporter


AMENDMENTS to the Boat Registration Act that passed the House of Assembly yesterday mandates that boat owners have a comprehensive insurance policy and outlines inspection requirements and registration fees.

The changes are contained in the Boat Registration Amendment Bill 2024 and the Water Skiing and Motor Boat Control Amendment Bill.

Transport and Energy Minister Jobeth Coleby-Davis said the boat registration amendment bill would strengthen inspection requirements under the Boat Registration Act by requiring every boat to be submitted for inspection to the New Providence Port Authority before being registered. The Port Authority should also be provided with a record of crew training, surveys conducted in the last 12 months, a history of dry docking, and boat maintenance records.

 Boat owners and operators of vessels registered for “to ply or for hire” in Bahamian waters are expected to get and maintain comprehensive insurance.

 “These amendments are designed to strengthen the safety oversight of the industry by the Port Department,” Mrs Coleby-Davis said.

 Penalties for boat owners will be increased.

 Owners who do not register their boats, complete inspections, or have valid insurance policies are subject to a penalty of not less than $5,000 and not exceeding $10,000.

 Another penalty of not less than $1,000 and not exceeding $5,000 is possible for any person who acts as master of a boat for hire or employs any other person to do so without first obtaining a licence under the law.

 Mrs Coleby-Davis addressed the criticism the government received due to increasing registration fees.

 “As minister with responsibility for transport, I acknowledge that in some quarters, the fees outlined in the schedules of both Bills will be criticised. However, it is important to note that the fees have not been adjusted in over 20 years. Additionally, we have taken the necessary steps to cushion the owners and operators of small boats — which are primarily used by our fishermen and small tour operators — from the increase in fares,” she said.

 Housing and Urban Development Minister Keith Bell said unlike other laws where fees are regularly reviewed and adjusted, the fees associated with the boat laws remained stagnant.

 St Anne’s MP Adrian White questioned whether the amendments make the revised fees retroactive to July 1, 2023, but Mrs Coleby-Davis said: “We advised the industry and we are now assisting and preparing for them to have that registration come into effect for March 2024. And so those persons will be able to receive the benefit of the amended bills and the new fees.”

 The Opposition voted against the bills.

 East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson said the boat fees were implemented without consultation and the government is ignoring the impact the fees will have on small boaters and fishermen.


Porcupine 4 months ago

This government seems to have moved from outrageous to committing suicide. Are their any thinking people left in Parliament?

ohdrap4 4 months ago

They are not done yet. Wait till they require tyre alignment to license and register your car. Just wait.

whatsup 4 months ago

WHY? This gov want us to pay taxes on everything we worked hard to buy. They will soon find a way to tax our air. Politicians are greedy and crooked

BONEFISH 4 months ago

These amendments are an attempt to strengthen the oversight on the maritime sector.There was a boat explosion in the Exuma Cays. Some persons spoke about that situation. Bahamian parliaments are very slow in modernizing laws.

rosiepi 4 months ago

And even slower in policing the law, ie. demanding evidence of insurance, licenses, mandating drug tests at all accidents.

DWW 4 months ago

goddamn stupid and incompetent that a bahamian going boating with the family on the weekend in a tiny little boat is lumped in with the big tour boats with hundreds of passengers and then lump in the small and large commercial fishermen all under the same rules and regs. Someone clearly doesn't have a clue and should not be making decisions.

DWW 4 months ago

and the lack of clear communication and highhandness will lose them the next election. Just communicate the whys and wherefores don't relay on the lameduck excuse that "fees haven't been raised in a long time". Maybe an education campaign to show what the money is used for like removal of derelict sunk boats in harbour. oil spill clean up costs etc. PhelP always take the "doan wash nuttin ova here" attitude instead of the better route of childrens story time...

hrysippus 4 months ago

So will the Bahamian sloops racing in the Family Islands regattas now have to have insurance coverage? Will the Ministry who organizes these regattas be responsible for checking that each boat is insured? Think BAMSI.

ExposedU2C 3 months ago

All boats "ply" the waters so this ridiculous legislation would apply to all boat owners whether their sea vessel is used for pleasure or business purposes.

Our government is now passing extortionist legislation that creates unnecessary and undue hardship for many of us while putting windfall profits in the pockets of their wealthy cronies in the financial services sector, in this case the insurance companies.

Such blackmailing legislation that unfairly, and I dare say, unconstitutionally threatens us with severe additional taxation in the form of draconian fines and penalties if we fail to comply and enrich the insurance industry, should be resoundingly rejected by all Bahamians.

Make no mistake about it, this is blackmail legislation of the kind that only a most corrupt government would impose on society. The recent CESRA 2023 legislation smacks of the very same coercive blackmailing tactic as it unjustly seeks to enrich greedy financial and corporate service providers, chief among them being trust companies, law firms and accounting firms. This nonsense needs to be stopped!

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