FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Meredith Kelly
September 13th, 2012 202.224.7433
In Wake of July 4th Boating Tragedy on Long Island:
SCHUMER INTRODUCES LEGISLATION REQUIRING CAPACITY LIMITS BE POSTED ON BOATS OVER 20FT IN LENGTH TO HELP PREVENT FUTURE TRAGEDIES
July 4th Tragedy on Long Island Left Three Children Dead; While Investigation Is Still Underway As To Whether Capsized Vessel Was Capable of Handling 27 Passengers, Posting Capacity Limits on Boats a Step in the Right Direction that Would Erase All Doubt in the Future
Schumer, Joined by Family of Victim Victoria Gaines, Called on Coast Guard to Act to Require All Boats to Post Capacity Limits to Prevent Future Tragedies; In Wake of Refusal of Coast Guard to Act, Schumer Introduces Legislation Requiring Coast Guard to Do So
Schumer: It’s Time for the Coast Guard to Make These Common-Sense Protections for NY Boaters
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced his legislation that would require the United States Coast Guard to develop capacity limits for recreational boats over 20 feet in length and have those limits be visibly posted onboard to educate and warn operators and their passengers of the vessels’ total passenger capabilities and weight load. In July, Schumer urged the U.S. Coast Guard to voluntarily adopt these regulations in light of the tragic loss of three children when a 34ft Silverton boat carrying 27 passengers capsized in Cove Neck following a July 4th fireworks show. While an investigation examining the reasons for the vessel’s capsizing is still underway, there have been numerous questions raised about overall capacity capabilities for such vessels. In light of the Coast Guard’s refusal to act, Schumer today introduced the Boating Capacity Standards Act of 2012, which will require the Coast Guard to develop capacity limits for boats over 20 feet in length and require capacity limits to be posted on all new boats to help prevent future tragedies.
“This tragedy shocked New Yorkers and Americans across the country, and we vowed to do everything we could from prevent it from happening again. Because the U.S. Coast Guard refuses to step up to the plate and require boats to post capacity limits, today I’m introducing legislation requiring them to do so,” said Schumer. “The Boat 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, and will help honor the memory of the children who died on that terrible day.”
In his letter to the U.S. Coast Guard in July, Schumer noted that the vessel that capsized last week was thirty-four feet long and, because it was longer than 20 feet, did not require a U.S. Coast Guard Capacity Information plaque onboard. Schumer argued that such a visibly displayed plaque can help dissuade boat owners, or passengers, from overcrowding a vessel, serving to prevent future tragedies from occurring. Schumer pointed out that the Coast Guard has the clear regulatory authority, and responsibility, to promulgate regulations for the promotion of safety of life as expressed in Title 14 section 2 of the U.S. Code. Schumer called on the Coast Guard to also require that those limits be posted visibly to a passenger boarding the vessel.
Schumer also cited the accident in which the Ethan Allen, a 40-foot boat, capsized and sank on Lake George on October 2, 2005. The boat held 47 passengers, and 20 died. Originally constructed to accommodate 48 passengers, the Ethan Allen had been modified with a canopy that should have lowered the capacity to 14 passengers. That accident also caused regulators to consider new laws, like this one, related to boat capacity limits. Schumer highlighted that whether boaters are on the ocean, rivers or upstate New York’s hundreds of lakes, developing new capacity limits and clearly posting them is critical to avoid future tragedies.
Schumer introduced the Boat Capacity Standards Act of 2012 to require the Coast Guard to establish standards for determining the maximum passenger capacity for recreation vessels. The bill would also require boat manufacturers to post permanent maximum passenger capacity on the vessel in a way that is legible and clearly visible to a passenger boarding the vessel. The limits must also indicate the maximum passenger capacity and the maximum carrying capacity in pounds. Schumer said that this legislation would be a huge step forward in protecting boaters and would go a long way towards preventing future tragedies from happening again.