Coast Guard shuts down 22 illegal charter boats in two weeks
Loop North News

LAKE MICHIGAN &
CHICAGO RIVER

(Above) Members of the U.S. Coast Guard inspect a boat and speak with its crew at Monroe Harbor on August 19. Photo by Master Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf. (Click on image to view larger version.)

24-Aug-17 – The United States Coast Guard has in its sights passenger boats in the Chicago area that are not compliant with the law. In the past two weeks, the Coast Guard says its members boarded and “terminated operations” of 22 boats on Lake Michigan and Illinois River, saying they were illegal vessels for hire.

With the assistance of Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Coast Guard boarded 39 boats in the Chicago area, issued citations totaling more than $50,000, and charged operators with 14 misdemeanors, including at least one charge of obstruction of justice.

Zeita Merchant “Vessels that do not adhere to federal regulations not only pose serious safety concerns to the public and the environment, but also adversely impact the livelihood of legitimate operators who do comply with federal regulations,” said Commander Zeita Merchant (left), commanding officer of Marine Safety Unit Chicago.

According to the Coast Guard, most people do not know they have booked or are on an illegal and unsafe charter until authorities board the vessel. The Coast Guard says passengers should ask charter operators for proof their vessel is compliant with requirements.

Charter boats can run afoul of the law by not complying with federal safety regulations, or by not having the proper licenses or inspection certificates.

“More boat owners are advertising their vessels for hire through boat sharing websites and mobile apps and are unaware of the risks and regulations for charter boats,” said the Coast Guard on Wednesday.

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

Published 24-Aug-17 12:07 PM

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