BVI News

Maximum fees for maritime offences being doubled

Premier Andrew Fahie. (GIS photo)

The Cabinet has reviewed and approved several amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act and these include stiffer financial penalties for breaches of the Act.

The executive body approved the increase of the maximum statutory fees on offences cited in the Act. This fee increase is being doubled from $5,000 to $10,000.

The Cabinet has also introduced a fixed penalty fee (unspecified) to be issued immediately at the time of the offence. Local enforcement or regulatory agencies involved in the active regulation of the maritime operations in the BVI will have powers to levy these penalties.

“Cabinet has agreed that the Director of Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, Marine Inspectors, Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and Her Majesty’s Customs Officers are authorised to issue fixed penalty offences under the Act,” the Cabinet said in a document released on its December 8 decisions.

Breathalysers for seafarers

Cabinet further decided that the Premier’s Office will liaise with the Deputy Governor’s Office for action on the decision with respect to amendments to the Police Act that allow officers to also administer a breathalyser test on ship captains.

According to the post Cabinet document, it was also “agreed that section 176 of the Police Act be further amended to authorise HM Customs, Immigration Officers and Officers of the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry to use breathalysers,” the document stated.

These proposed changes has now been sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers for vetting. Once reviewed, it will be resubmitted to Cabinet for further approval before being forwarded to the House of Assembly.

21 proposed amendments

In March of this year, Premier Andrew Fahie had proposed 21 amendments to the Act. One of them said that while on duty, boat captains would be required to have a prescribed (unspecified) alcohol limit as it relates to alcohol consumption. Fahie also said the law would be amended to give a police officer the right to enter a ship/vessel or any other place where a drunk seafarer might be located.

When Premier Fahie had addressed the House regarding the Shipping Merchant Act 2001 back then, he said the amendments are critical to the local sector. The Premier had said it is a fundamental piece of legislation that governs the maritime sector which is the cornerstone of the territory’s tourism, fishing and financial services economy.

He added that its passage is critical to the preservation of the category-one status as a member of the UK’s Red Ensign Group — the premier registry of the maritime vessels in the world. He further said the proposed amendments support the government’s plan to revitalise the territory’s marine sector and to confirm the BVI as a sailing and maritime capital of the region.


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  1. Rubber Duck says:

    Let’s kill off the tourist trade completely.

    You can bet the one type of boat that won’t be hassled and harassed by the maritime Gestapo is the go fast involved in the Colombian parcel trade.

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  2. Nope says:

    He no get it, never will

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  3. OMG says:

    What else can this man find to keep the tourists away, we are becoming more and more a Country run by a Dictator. These rules to allow the Gestapo to enter any place without a previously granted warrant by a judge is just the heights of stupidity.

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  4. Fisherman says:

    Andrew just a blind man making up them new regulation. Whoever advising he and the cabinets need stop before you kill the industry.

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  5. Magistrate Process still in place!? says:

    Stop wasting your time with this nonsense. As long as the clunky 3rd world Magistrate Process is in place, this is not going to work.
    1) Officer has to issue “Summons” to offenders
    2) Magistrate has to write it up
    3) Magistrate official then has to hand deliver a written court order (usually 6+ months in the future)
    4) offenders then show up in court to be charged
    5) second court date is set for sentencing (or fine)
    The BVI must change this process for any meaningful marine enforcement to happen.
    This is such a waste of time and bad press for the tourists that come here to boat

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  6. More and more red herring says:

    So why EZShipping Barge intercepted about 16 … only a few were charged ….. What a joke . Who is going to enforced when rules are broken … No confidence ever in this government

    2. What is the outcome of the Committee put together to determine whether or not Govermnent should foot the Speaket bill

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  7. VOTE says:


  8. Designated driver says:

    So, basically, every boat or dinghy will have to have a designated driver. Perhaps not a bad idea, but not likely to be popular, and certainly not likely to be enforced on local go fast boats. The welcome bottle of rum on charter boats will gave to dispensed with lest charter companies be seen as encouraging unlawful behaviour. Beach bars might now opt to rent hammocks for people to sleep it off but then they might not get a Trade license for that since it would tread on the toes of the hotel business. The expectation if revitalizing the marine sector by strict rule enforcement, mainly on outside boats and their users, seems an exercise in extreme optimism. Yet, see how many empty beer bottles in many people’s car.

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  9. Um no says:

    Actually we don’t have to have this and AGAIN this is a case of NOT UNDERSTANDING the law. This is ONLY applicable to COMMERCIAL captain’s in the UK of a specific size and over. This is not applicable to recreational boats in the UK including those on a bareboat charter. May I suggest John Samuel and the Premier have a discussion with the RYA in the UK before they YET AGAIN screw up the MCA interpretations in the BVI.

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  10. tax payer says:

    how about maximum penalties for droug smuggeling, endangering others in fast boats, killing people with fast boats, driving unsafe trucks, not paying NHI or SSI i could keep going

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  11. Must ask says:

    After watching BVI government/politics for over 30 years,I have to ask a simple question. Do only idiots run for office, or is it only idiots that vote?

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