Marine Department to review life-jacket policy

PHUKET: The Marine Department is looking to review its strict policy for life-jacket use on tour boats, which requires all passengers to don the vests before the boat departs, confirmed Chula Sukmanop, director-general of the Marine Department.

The tough enforcement of safety measures was put into effect in November last year (story here), after a speedboat driver crashed into a fishing trawler, killing two Koreans and injuring dozens of tourists (story here).

The review of the policy comes after the issue was raised by Chris Gordon, founder of Sunsail yacht charter and managing director of The Village on Coconut Island, at a superyacht meeting held at Phuket Provincial Hall on May 11 (story here).

Mr Gordon suggested that life jackets are safety aids that can be placed in easily accessible areas near the seats of passengers, and that is was not necessary for tourists to wear them before departure.

“I partly agree with Mr Gordon’s idea,” said Mr Chula. “However, he may be assuming that it is the law [for life jackets to be put on before departure], when really it’s the policy of the Marine Department in order to ensure tourists’ safety.”

The boat’s layout, emergency procedures and number of passengers varies for each vessel, explained Mr Chula.

“Mr Gordon’s suggestion that life jackets be placed near passenger seats is interesting. However, we need to understand that the level of experience and general knowledge of each passenger is different,” he said.

“There is also the possibility that they will not pay attention to the crew’s safety instructions.

“Should the need for life jackets arise, the passengers may be unable to locate them, or will assist others before themselves. Therefore, if they are already wearing them, it’s safer.”

However, Mr Chula confirmed that the Marine Department will discuss changes to the policy after more urgent issues – such as superyacht charter licences and the tackling of Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessels – are addressed.

“Until then, the policy will be in place as usual,” he said.

— Kongleaphy Keam

Phuket News

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