NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (April 27, 2023)- Persons operating boats and other motorized vessels, as well as swimmers and divers in the waters of Nevis, are being urged to use due care and attention to avoid accidents at sea.
Premier Hon. Mark Brantley issued the appeal at his April 25, 2023 press conference, where he extended condolences to the family and friends of Ishmael Hanley of Jessups Village, who lost his life in a boating accident on April 19.
“Let me extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Ishmael Hanley. While I was abroad I got the very tragic news that Mr. Hanley apparently was struck by a boat while he was out diving and as a consequence he lost his life.
“I want to take this opportunity to appeal to our boat operators that they absolutely have to exercise all necessary care. We recognize that the water taxi business is growing…I encourage the water taxi operators, the captains of these boats, the owners, that they train and re-train and continue to insist that safety at sea is absolutely critical. These accidents, having had two in the past several years, are two too many. I also of course, in fairness, want to urge those who are out in the ocean swimming, diving, that they too must exercise some care and attention.”
The Premier said he has received video evidence of boaters speeding close to the shoreline in the Paradise Beach area, and personally experienced a water taxi having to stop suddenly to avoid hitting a diver. He called on the boating, swimming, and diving community to all act responsibly.
“I have had reports of recklessness on all sides, and so I’m hopeful that people can conduct themselves sensibly; and if we know that this is the usual lanes through which our water taxis are traversing, then if we must go into those lanes to dive then we should have some kind of marker or something to indicate that we’re there. The owners of Paradise Beach and others have said that they complain bitterly all the time to say to the jet ski operators, to the speed boat operators ‘Do not come into shore or close to shore, that’s more likely to have people swimming; stay out to sea with your motorized vessels’.
“On all sides of this we have had difficulty, and I’m using this rostrum because here we’ve had two fatalities in the last several years. I don’t want anyone else to get hurt. I don’t want anyone else to die… I have seen local fishermen doing it, I have seen jet ski operators doing it, we have seen the pleasure boats and the pleasure crafts doing it, and I don’t understand why. Let us be sensible in how we conduct ourselves. We are endangering people. If you happen to be on the beach and you are taking a swim you ought not to be at risk of being struck by a jet ski or pleasure boat which happens to be right into shore.”
Hon. Brantley assured that the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) is taking urgent steps to address the issue and the Premier has asked the Nevis Air and Sea Ports Authority (NASPA) to quickly convene with the Maritime Affairs Division to determine what can be done to ensure that there are no further occurrences of these incidences.
The government has invested large sums of money to put up swim zones and will revisit the matter with a view to establishing additional swim zones around the island.