Senator Introduces Bill Requiring Capacity Limits for All Recreational Vesselsposted: 9/25/2012
In July, as a result of a series of tragic boat accidents that allegedly resulted from overloaded recreational boats larger than 20 feet in length, Sen. Schumer urged Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. to establish capacity requirements for all recreational boats.
In a letter to Adm. Papp, Sen. Schumer said that the Coast Guard had clear regulatory authority to expand the present regulation -- which only requires that boats under 20 feet in length display a plate showing their maximum passenger count, weight capacity and maximum horsepower -- without changing the underlying federal law.
Schumer said his legislation, Senate Bill 3537, the Boating Capacity Standards Act of 2012, will ensure that all boaters, no matter the size of their vessel, are aware of how many people should be on board.
No later than 180 days after its enactment into law, S. 3537 would require that the commandant of the Coast Guard (1) establish standards for determining the maximum passenger capacity in whole number of passengers and in pounds for recreational vessels; (2) require each manufacturer of a passenger vessel to post on the vessel such maximum passenger capacity and notice of the need to balance the carried weight; and (3) require each operator of a passenger vessel to ensure that the maximum passenger capacity and the notice of the need to balance the weight carried by the vessel to avoid capsizing are posted and legible to passengers.
The requirements of S. 3537 would apply to any recreational vessel manufactured 180 days after its enactment into law. Schumer said that this legislation would be a huge step forward in protecting boaters, and would go a long way toward preventing future tragedies.
S. 3537 was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.