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Gov’t demanding boats be insured; it's the law

-damaged vessels remain big eyesore
Boat owners are urged by the Government of the Virgin Islands to insure their boats before the next hurricane season. Photo: Team of Reporters
A sunken powerboat in the Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017. Photo: VINO/File
A sunken powerboat in the Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017. Photo: VINO/File
Half sunken boats filled with water, growing sea moss and seaweed can be seen adjacent to Village Cay. Photo: Team of Reporters
Half sunken boats filled with water, growing sea moss and seaweed can be seen adjacent to Village Cay. Photo: Team of Reporters
Many abandoned boats at the Virgin Islands (VI) marinas. Photo: Team of Reporters
Many abandoned boats at the Virgin Islands (VI) marinas. Photo: Team of Reporters
Broken docks can be seen throughout all the Marinas on Tortola and the sister islands. Photo: Team of Reporters
Broken docks can be seen throughout all the Marinas on Tortola and the sister islands. Photo: Team of Reporters
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - Following the two powerful category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria that destroyed the Territory in September 2017 smashing boats, cars, planes, homes, businesses, killing humans and animals, the Virgin Islands has made some headway in the cleanup efforts.

However, the biggest eyesore remains our bays, marinas, harbours, some beaches and coastline which as of today April 7, 2018, are still littered with sunken boats, yachts, broken docks, vessels and barges on land and in bays along with some boats and yachts still on both public and private lands.

It has become one of the biggest challenges to clean up as seven months later not many have been removed from where Irma and Maria left them on Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke and Anegada.

It is our newsroom's understanding that part of the problem is to identify the owners and others do not have insurance, like most cars and homes or businesses.

Insure vessels it’s the law

However, the Government’s agency the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry and Receiver of Wrecks responsible for all vessels and sea craft are reminding owners of vessels operating in the Virgin Islands' (VI) waters to properly insure.

The appeal was made in a Government Information Service (GIS) press release issued yesterday April 6, 2018. Government spokeswomen Bria Smith suggested, it was even more important “before the beginning of the 2018 hurricane season".

Ms Smith stated, “In accordance with The Merchant Shipping Act of the VI, every vessel, including pleasure and commercial boats, whether unregistered or registered in the VI or overseas is required to carry insurance coverage against risks and loss or damage to third parties, and against wreck removal expenses.”

The GIS press release also warned that “The act further states that an owner or operator of a boat which is not insured as required above, commits an offence and is liable upon summary conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty thousand dollars.”

Acting Director for the VI Shipping Registry and Receiver of Wrecks, Captain Raman Bala also according to the same release added, “There has been widespread damages and wrecking of vessels. The owners of those vessels that carried insurance have been properly compensated and boats disposed of. There are still hundreds of boats that are uninsured and most appear to be abandoned by their owners on our beaches, private lands and coast. If these boats are not removed, there will be direct consequences to the economy in terms of the environment, tourism and conduct of commerce.”

Law allows recovery of cost- Captain Balla

Captain Balla further warned boat owners in the same release, “Even if the government discard these boats, there is a provision in the law to recover the costs from boat owners. Therefore, it makes great sense to insure these vessels well in advance of the 2018 hurricane season.”

The Government has been warning boat and other vessel owners for months to remove their abandoned, and damaged crafts, however, to date the warnings have fallen on deaf ears with the government only intervening whenever there are public or other department outcries like in the case of the Mayflower.

Even before the Hurricanes of 2017 many areas on Tortola and Virgin Gorda especially, the Sea Cows Bay Harbour and areas of Road Town have been an eyesore with half sunken and damaged vessels and decommissioned ferry boats with no actions taken by Government to date.

21 Responses to “Gov’t demanding boats be insured; it's the law ”

  • pat (07/04/2018, 20:03) Like (13) Dislike (2) Reply
    this is a real issue every time I look at Village cay or sea cows bay harbors I want to throw up real nasty looking
  • Hmm (07/04/2018, 20:06) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Can someone state what section and provision these laws can be found?
    • Maxi (08/04/2018, 06:27) Like (10) Dislike (1) Reply
      No.....because the laws do not exist and even if they did the BVISR is waste of time.
    • biker (08/04/2018, 08:13) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
      Merchant Shipping Act 2001 (BVI) section 54. The entire 363 page act is available on line as a pdf document.

      The max fine for contravening section 54 is $20,000US. The Receiver of Wrecks is responsible for determining the 'satisfactory' amount for wreck removal expenses.
    • biker (08/04/2018, 12:01) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Merchant Shipping Act 2001(BVI) section 54. The 360+ page law is available online as a pdf.

  • cromwell (07/04/2018, 21:48) Like (17) Dislike (1) Reply
    Excellent suggestion, so, I assume that all the derelict ferries, barges, cargo boats and landing craft owners will all be sued notwithstanding they are all belongers, afterall, they are the only people that can obtain the necessary licenses.
    Let's see the government put it's money where it's mouth is.
  • Insurer (07/04/2018, 22:40) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    You have a good point in the entire story, but...... Boat Insurance is very expensive and often time the owners simply cannot afford insurance. Many of the yachts DO NOT belong to "locals" and I know of cases where the overseas owners collected the insurance money, left the BVI and never looked back. The same applies to many houses. We will end up with lots of "white elephants" - building that will never be repaired or rebuild. Taking about those eye sores in Road Town, Sea Cows Bay and all over.
  • Interesting (08/04/2018, 00:23) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    This is very much needed. How will this work if most of the boats are lic and registered overseas. Will customs be policing this requirement as customs is the only legal means by which boats are allowed to enter and operate.
  • Winston (08/04/2018, 06:24) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yes, it is a serious problem that needs dealing with. The Shipping Registry is not going to get the job done. The Department is generally ineffective on day to day issues and this task is way beyond their ability.
  • Truth (08/04/2018, 08:25) Like (2) Dislike (9) Reply
    They pressured the local guy Smith to remove the mayflower but expat owners gone free what double standards
  • just wrong (08/04/2018, 09:45) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is too funny for words. Who someone please tell me who owns the big blue half sunken catamaran that has been there since Hurricane Earl years ago?
  • qc (08/04/2018, 10:52) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    EYESCORE IS JOKE
  • Wow Wow Wow (08/04/2018, 11:13) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply


    The real question that should be asked is if government intends to do business differently , the government lost everything more or less because they don't insure their stuff all the vehicle all their buildings if they still have any are gone but yet they are policing people they need to get their house in order and set an example for people to follow now that the hurricane is gone there is no way for the lost by government to be replace because they had no insurance and that is a shame and if the government implemented the laws we would not have this problem

    • The Next move (08/04/2018, 12:09) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
      Amend the labour laws to protect workers from heartless bosses during disasters...Please..
  • Lord o (08/04/2018, 12:05) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Agree with government on this one.. Good move...
  • ------------------ (08/04/2018, 12:15) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    just burn them all
  • Tola Man (08/04/2018, 13:07) Like (4) Dislike (3) Reply
    My poor bvi they are always trying to find ways to milk the citizens dry and yahll worrying about ppl damage boats on their private lanfs, strupes that's not messing tourism up ask the tourist then when they come what bothers them most is the roads an how government sits on their behind.
    • Informed (08/04/2018, 14:59) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      Not to worry, one look by the cruise ships and they won't be coming in for a very long time! Kiss tourist trade good-bye!
  • Truth (08/04/2018, 16:38) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Most of the boats does not belong to locals so nothing will be done!
  • tola fo yu (08/04/2018, 18:37) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    Wanna know what's an eye sore ? Just take a hike away from the cruise dock and look to the left and see all of Government's damaged vehicles littered right there next to the public road. Then walk a few more steps and look at the state of /Palm Grove plaza and the building (the yellow building) next to it. Right in the heart of town ...and you all coming here talking bout people boats?
  • Just A Thought (10/04/2018, 16:57) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    It should be a law for all homes to be insured also; of course there will be the exception. Makes good economic sense to me.


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