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Kingston, Jamaica: May 30, 2014 – Effective Monday (June 2, 2014) the operation of commercial Personal Water Crafts (PWCs) will be re-opened at the UDC beach in Ocho Rios Bay, St. Ann.
The announcement was made by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament, on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. This as he informed Parliament of his intention to table a water sports policy as a Green Paper shortly to address and provide a framework for the management of all water sports in Jamaica. A major part of the policy concerns motorized water sports and PWCs.
An island-wide suspension of all PWC operations and a ban on the importation of PWCs into the island has been in place since February of this year. The measures were applied in the wake of three accidents involving PWCs between August 2013 and January 2014.
Minister McNeill told Parliament that the Marine Police has indicated that they are sufficiently resourced with vessels and personnel to ably enforce regulations in the bay upon resumption of commercial activities. “If the Ocho Rios Bay commercial PWC operations are successful, they will provide a template for guiding commercial operations in other resort areas,” he stated.
A Task Force, which was established to bring PWC activity under stronger management and enforcement, is now looking at the other areas of operation. The ban on importation will remain in place until further notice.
The PWC Task Force is being guided by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), with enforcement by the Marine Police Division.
Clear rules and regulations have been established by the Task Force for the operation of PWC’s both commercially and privately. All PWCs must have the appropriate decals affixed or be liable for seizure by the authorities. In addition, all operators of commercial PWCs must receive training in the operation of the vessel and meet all requirements for licencing, including insurance in order to be eligible for a Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) water sports licence. PWCs should enter and leave the shore using the designated launch area at a slow speed of 3 knots; and occupants of PWCs must operate at least 200m from the shore.
Advertisements were recently placed in the media to advise all owners of PWCs (“jet skis”) who wish to be licenced to operate their PWCs commercially that they must have them registered with the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) by May 21, 2014.
Minister McNeill said “while it must be emphasised that registration does not guarantee that a licence will be granted, owners must have registered their craft by that date.”