A Broward County Advisory Board on Thursday voted against recommending the County Commission support regulations be imposed on the parasail industry, which has been in the spotlight since a tourist fell to her death last August.
“It kind of blows me away,” said Larry Meddock, executive director of the Water Sports Industry Association. “They have a vested interest.”
The board was meeting to consider whether to recommend to the Broward County Commission that it support legislation that will be taken up during the 2013 season. Recently, state Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, proposed legislation addressing weather conditions, how far offshore a boat must stay, and equipment checks.
The push for regulations has come up following the death of Kathleen Miskell, 28, a tourist from Connecticut, who plummeted nearly 200 feet to her death when her harness malfunctioned over the waters off Pompano Beach.
She and her husband Stephen Miskell were in a tandem harness run by Waveblast Water Sports. The accident is still under investigation.
In Florida, all someone needs to start a parasailing business is a boat, a certified boat captain and equipment.
Meddock told the advisory committee that he supports regulations — as long as they work for everyone. The challenge, he said, would be to create something that would not be a burden on small businesses.
Meddock said the number one cause of accidents is weather — which is something that regulations can address.
Matthew Dvorak, who owns and operates Daytona Beach Parasail, told the committee he wants the state to regulate the industry so companies cannot operate without proper equipment or checks, which casts a black cloud over the industry as a whole.
“We want everybody to be safe,” he said.
But several members of the Marine Advisory Committee said without having a piece of legislation in hand, it was too early to make a decision.
“I think our board should wait until we see the actual legislation and the real ramifications,” said committee member Mark Ercolin, a maritime lawyer. “I don’t think we should just recommend something because it feels good.”
Chairman Dan Yaffe said he hopes the issue will come before the board again.
“I look forward to seeing proposed legislation and having discussion in the future,” he said.