Wed, Aug 09, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Bureau mulls laws for use of flotation devices at sea

NEW AGENCY?The Marine Port Bureau said polystyrene boats, pedal boats and other flotation devices are not regulated according to the Ships Act

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Marine Port Bureau yesterday said that it is in the process of stipulating guidelines for the use of flotation devices at sea in a bid to reduce casualties caused by improper use.

The announcement came after two separate incidents off coasts in the nation’s northeast.

The first was last month, when a man surnamed Chen (陳) sailed out on a boat made of polystyrene foam to go fishing at night.

Chen’s boat was capsized after being hit by large waves.

He was found by coast guard personnel, but was reportedly reluctant to be taken ashore, wanting the coast guard to find his boat first.

Separately, on Wednesday last week, three men and a woman went fishing off the coast of Keelung in a polystyrene boat.

All four were tossed into the sea after the boat was struck by large waves.

Three of them were rescued, but one was found dead the next day.

Reports showed that the four leased the boat from a rental service that did not provide life jackets.

The bureau said that leisure activities in public waters are regulated by local government authorities.

Polystyrene foam boats, canoes, pedal boats or other flotation devices are not defined as ships that can be regulated by the Ships Act (船舶法), it said, although some local governments have stipulated rules for them.

The bureau has raised the issue with the Council of Agriculture’s Fisheries Agency, as many people use such craft to go fishing at sea.

The Fisheries Agency said that people fishing at sea are engaging in a leisure activity, so they should not be regulated as strictly as commercial fishing operations.

Rules regulating fishing as a leisure activity would have to be written by the administrative agency in charge of ocean affairs, which has yet to be established, the bureau said.

To ensure safety in public waters, the bureau said it has invited specialists from the Fisheries Agency, the Coast Guard Administration and local governments to draft guiding principles on the use of flotation devices, which would be incorporated into the rules stipulated by the local governments.

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