Further calls to regulate watersports in Bahamas
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In the wake of the many jet-ski and boating accidents which occur every year in the Bahamas, the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association is now urging the Government to enact legislation and to provide for its effective enforcement.
In addition, the Association urges the Grand Bahama Port Authority to pass by-laws under the Freeport By-Laws Act to similarly provide for safety in Freeport.
A statement released by Frederick Smith, the president of the Association, said he notes the call by the British Coroner to the Governor-General urging her to take action to regulate the water sports activities in the Bahamas following the tragic death of Paul Gallagher - a two-year-old British boy killed in a boating accident on Paradise Island two years ago.
The call follows the British High Commission in Nassau updating its travel warning to its citizens advising them to not rent jet-skis in the Bahamas unless they are experienced users of the machines.
The updated advice from the High Commission states: "The water sports industry in the Bahamas is very poorly regulated. Every year people are killed or seriously injured by the improper use of jet-skis or other watercraft or by the careless or reckless operation of such equipment by others.
"In view of a number of recent fatal accidents, we advise you not to rent jet-skis in New Providence and Paradise Island unless you are experienced jet-ski users. If you choose to rent any type of water sports equipment, you should first consider the dangers involved and satisfy yourself that adequate safety precautions are in place.
"Once satisfied about this, rent only from reputable operators and insist on sufficient training before use. Also ensure that the operator has adequate insurance cover."
Mr Smith added: "For many decades, as our waters have become busier with Bahamians, tourists, boaters, jet-skiers and swimmers, there are frequent accidents resulting mainly from the lack of regulation, supervision and enforcement of safety rules or laws.
"It is ironic that the Bahamas tourism marketing thrives on luring visitors to our sun, sand and sea yet, when they are here, we make no provision, as a nation, to protect them from being maimed or killed.
"Our Association is aware of the common habit of boats speeding far too close to shore, sometimes hitting swimmers and drowning them or dismembering and mutilating them with the propellers.
"In Freeport, at Taino Beach, used by thousands on holidays, jet skis and pleasure boats speed close to shore, onto the shore, and in and through swimmers, in particular, children, with reckless neglect and criminal abandon."
Mr Smith added: "It is disgraceful for our nation to continue to seduce people to our shores whilst making little or no provision for their safety.
"We therefore join with the British Coroner in calling, not only on the Governor- General, but on the Government and the Grand Bahama Port Authority to protect beach goers from harm."
Adam Janckiewicz, Associated Press, Bahamas.
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