There may soon be new laws to govern how jet ski operators conduct their business in Barbados.
And Minister of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey is putting the “handful” of those who currently flout the law on notice that their days are numbered.
He said there was an unacceptable level of “lack of order” among a few jet ski operators who currently had no regard for other beach users even though they know the law.
“We have made it very clear that going forward we will be enforcing the law,” said Humphrey.
He said his ministry had been holding meetings with them over the past few weeks and had also met with members of the marine arm of the defense and crime-fighting forces, who have agreed to deal with the issue in a serious manner.
“Unfortunately there have been a number of reports pertaining to the jet ski operators in the way they conduct themselves, the abuse of tourists, the abuse of Barbadians and abuse to one another. It cannot continue,” said Humphrey, who pointed out that the jet ski operators were given an opportunity to comply voluntarily.
“There is a time when you have to redo the law and we are doing that, but there are times when you have to enforce the law,” Humphrey told a post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday.
He noted that current legislation made provision for those who flouted the law to be fined $3,000 or be given six months in jail or for a repeat offender to be fined $5,000 or serve 12 months in prison.
He said a part of the process in the future would be to offer training to jet ski and other watersport operators.
However, insisting that there was need for new legislation, Humphrey said, “We are going to have to put more teeth into the legislation.”
Currently an operator’s licence may be revoked only as a result of two offences – manslaughter caused by the watercraft or if the person was convicted of a repeat offence.
But Humphrey said “I feel we have to review that. We have to make it very clear. I think in applying for jet ski there has to be clear rules and we have to continue to monitor what is occurring on the seas. But the word has to be enforced. We have to enforce the legislation as it stands and when we make the amendments we must enforce that legislation as well,” he insisted.
His comments came as Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith provided an update on investigations involving a jet ski and a missing couple.
While the couple has not been found, Griffith said the local authorities was receiving assistance in analyzing the jet ski, which was found some 12 days after the couple went missing on June 24.
The couple, Oscar Suarez, 32, and Magdalena Devil, 25, came to Barbados on vacation.
Though reporting very little progress, Griffith said: “With the assistance of the FBI we have had investigators looking at the jet ski itself and we have had samples taken from the jet ski and examination of the engine and the body and we are awaiting results on the outcome.”