Standing room only as Chicago mariners learn perils of illegal operation
Loop North News

Lake Michigan &
Chicago River
Photo by USCG Senior Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf

(Above) Lt. Byron Rios, chief of investigations at Marine Safety Unit Chicago, delivers a presentation recently on the requirements to operate a lawful passenger vessel on Chicago-area waterways. Photo by USCG Senior Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf. (Click on image to view larger version.)

Standing room only as Chicago mariners learn perils of illegal operation

11-May-17 – The United States Coast Guard is hoping education and occasional boardings will reverse a “growing number” of illegal charter operations – such as a commercial vessel not operated by a Coast Guard licensed captain – on the southern tip of Lake Michigan and in the Chicago Area Waterway System.

120 people attended a recent workshop at Chicago Yacht Club that was hosted by the Coast Guard and Chicago Harbor Safety Committee.

The commanding officer of Marine Safety Unit Chicago says safe and legal operation of passenger vessels is her top priority.

Zeita Merchant “Educating boaters is the Coast Guard’s primary tool for compelling compliance,” said Commander Zeita Merchant (left). “Forums such as this workshop and the unity of effort from our partnering agencies are critical to preserving the safety of passengers, promoting safe and legal boating practices, and facilitating commerce.”

Some of those agencies include Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and Westrec Marinas, a marina management company.

In addition to workshops, the Coast Guard will board vessels to make sure they are legally carrying paying passengers and have the required safety equipment on board. In the past year, Marine Safety Unit Chicago has investigated 22 reports of illegal passenger vessel operations. A vessel proven to be operating illegally is subject to a fine as high as $42,750 per day.

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

Published 11-May-17 2:39 AM

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