Dáil Éireann - Volume 443 - 16 June, 1994

Written Answers. - Unlicensed Passenger Ferries.

37. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for the Marine the proposals, if any, he has to alert the public to the dangers of using unlicensed ferries or pleasure boats operating around the coast; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for the Marine (Mr. Andrews): All passenger ferries operating around the coast must be licensed under the Merchant Shipping Acts. Operators are obliged for licensing purposes, to satisfy a range of safety standards in relation to construction, seaworthiness and safety equipment.

I have taken a number of steps to ensure that the public is fully informed of licensing requirements and safety standards and that owners, operators and crew of all boats are in no doubt as to their obligations to comply with safety requirements.

The Department is reviewing the operation of small ferries with particular emphasis on clarification, compliance with and enforcement of the law as it stands, local and other agencies, notably harbour masters and the Garda Síochána are assisting the Marine Surveyors with identifying and targeting non compliance. The Department is also assessing the existing safety requirements which will be enhanced as necessary in full consultation with the relevant interests.

In addition to this strategy of increased surveillance and enforcement, this year's marine safety awareness campaign is aimed specifically at raising public awareness [2135] about safety standards on small ferries and other boats operating around the coast. The campaign, which I launched last April, will continue throughout the summer. It involves widespread media advertising, distribution of posters and leaflets to tourist centres, harbour offices and schools and a freephone safety helpline.