BVI Customs seize 184 charter boats
Published on March 22nd, 2022
The Caribbean regatta season is well underway with a racing fleet of boats set to commence the 2022 St. Thomas International Regatta on March 25-27. But after this stage in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the tour heads to the British Virgin Islands where there are troubling headlines.
The BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, being held in 2022 on March 30-April 3, has over 80 entrants, with a large portion of the event coming from local charter fleets. However, British Virgin Islands Customs officials has detained 184 boats from three charter yacht companies, and that could spoil some plans.
The Moorings, with a total of 138 boats detained, was fined over $300,000 for violating maritime regulations. The two other companies, Dream Yachts and Captain Compass, were fined nearly $100,000 and $55,000, respectively.
The massive action involved Customs, Labor, Immigration, Department of Trade, the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, Ports Authority, and the Financial Investigations Agency.
“Currently, there are approximately 184 vessels that are detained and will be secured by bond, until they meet the requirements to be offered for hire,” said Customs Commissioner Wade Smith.
Violations included chartering without commercial licenses and cruising permits, making false declarations to customs officers, and for not meeting safety requirements.
According to the commissioner, BVI officials have been working with the companies for several months, and in some cases a year, relative to compliance and other matters. However, routine checks revealed they were disregarding agreements and arrangements
“The government cannot afford to put the lives of the captain, crew and clients in jeopardy and run the risk of having a major maritime accident involving loss of lives in BVI waters, especially where non-compliant vessels were licensed for commercial use by the government,” said BVI Premier Andrew Fahie.
The Customs Department has given the companies until April 15 to get into compliance by getting their commercial licenses. For vessels not licensed by that date, the duty becomes payable at 5% of their value, with the combined value of all vessels in excess of $100 million.