A charter boat with passengers on board was “terminated” near Marco Island earlier this month for operating without a license, the U.S. Coast Guard announced Friday.
The boat was advertising passenger cruises on Facebook, according to officers, but was not operating in accordance with regulations.
When a small group of officers from the Coast Guard’s Fort Myers station boarded the boat, they found six passengers and one crew member. It’s still unclear how long the illegal charter was operating, but the Coast Guard said they are investigating.
“The Coast Guard will continue to aggressively pursue vessel operators who place the lives of patrons at risk by not complying with Coast Guard passenger vessel regulations,” said Brian Knapp, senior investigating officer at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.
Passengers who are interested in enjoying a charter boat ride should ask to see the captain’s credential’s to make sure they’re approved by the Coast Guard, Knapp said.
“If the operator cannot produce a Merchant Mariner Credential, don’t get on the boat,” he said.
Those who are found owning or operating an illegal “passenger-for-hire operations” can face over $50,000 in fines.
If you think a charter is operating illegally, contact the Coast Guard at 727-824-7506 or 813-228-2191 ext. 8169.