USCG, CBP officers clarify rules

Oct 31, 2021 by Dorie Cox

Photo by Dorie Cox

Correctly interpreting yacht rules and regulations is a challenge for yacht captains and crew to navigate. Fortunately, for the past few years at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Shows, a panel of experts has answered questions and clarified complexities of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Miami and U.S. Customs and Border Protection rules.

The audience of captains, crew and industry professionals asked questions, usually based on a previous or current situation with yachts. Topics included:

 “No-go” zones officially known as Regulated Navigation Areas (RNA)
Several recent incidents have had larger vessels inadvertently navigate or anchor where they are not supposed to be throughout the country. An example that highlighted the topic was a yacht that anchored in a regulated area in the Florida Keys over the Christmas holiday.

There are six different categories of regulations that can be found on for protected areas, according to Benjamin Adrien, Chief of Waterways with U.S. Coast Guard Sector Miami.

“We can interact with vessels to prevent problems,” Adrien said. There are diverse regulations, and mariners need to carefully check each area. Because of depths, coral reefs, currents, and other factors, there is no one rule for every yacht tonnage, draft, and length in  every RNA.

“Each area’s regulations are different,” Adrien said. Yacht captains may think the yacht size doesn’t matter, but it does.

Pollution plans
Non-vessel tank response plans basically detail procedures in case of an incident, such as an overfilled fuel tank, vessel grounding, boat collision or a hull failure.

“We re-released information for vessel response plans and Notice of Arrivals for over 300gt on Homeport [],” said Krystyna Rogers, Port State Control branch chief with U.S. Coast Guard Sector Miami. “We noticed lots of violations, so we re-published last week.”

The USCG is considering one-time wavers, she said. “A one-time waiver is a port specific determination to determine if it will be accepted. At the end of the day, it comes down to the captain of the port in each area.”

COVID updates
Yacht crew were considered essential workers during the pandemic, and that still stands.

“Crew are considered essential, they will fall under the exemption,” said Paul Shoupe, chief of Port Everglades with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). But enforcement falls to others.

“We have no formal guidance on vaccine requirements. CBP is not the enforcer of that. We will not check vaccine status,” Shoupe said. “That is the requirement of [airline] carriers or owners of yachts to confirm that requirements are met.”

USCG vessel stops
An audience member said he noticed the USCG doing more courtesy checks in the South Florida area.

“For federal rules, we can stop any vessel,” said USCG Commander Elliott. “There have been lots of illegal charters. There may be telltale signs that an officer may see. Maybe that is why there is an uptick. We have seen a 230% increase during COVID. It is a top priority for us.”


About Dorie Cox

Dorie Cox is a writer with Triton News.

View all posts by Dorie Cox →

Related Articles

Taking the Helm: Leaders, set an example; take care of yourself

Taking the Helm: Leaders, set an example; take care of yourself

Taking the Helm: by Capt. Paul Ferdais The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredible test of character and determination for all crew on yachts. Captains have had to deal

Bahamas officials make yachting a priority

Bahamas officials make yachting a priority

By Lucy Chabot Reed Yachts and the yachting community — the only piece of the tourism sector still active in the Bahamas — are the island nation’s top priority,

Maritime regulations no guarantee against local pandemic restrictions

On almost a daily basis, new rules are implemented or existing rules are modified with little to no notice, creating chaos for crew and endless problems for itinerary planning, owner’s use, and …

FLIBS19: USCG, CBP address yacht issues

FLIBS19: USCG, CBP address yacht issues

By Dorie Cox Surrounded by millions of dollars worth of yachts for sale, officers from several U.S. governmental agencies explained how to maintain compliance of those yachts after they

‘Ask the Flag’ panel offers insight, answers questions

‘Ask the Flag’ panel offers insight, answers questions

Ongoing concerns with hours of work and rest, cyber security and more keep the yachting industry wondering how to best comply. Captains and crew had a chance to get answers from Cayman Islands and …

Shut down and stranded: Pandemic realities for those who work at sea

Delays, cancellations, restrictions, closures, quarantines, and last-minute changes have become the norm in the past 18 months. For crew, the fallout has been