Phuket tour boats, ferries forced to install AIS locators

PHUKET: New regulations to come into effect from Sunday will require all boats and ferries in Phuket that are registered to carry 25 or more passengers to be fitted with an AIS locator device.

The news was delivered at a meeting of marine officials with more than 220 Phuket boat operators at the Katina Hotel in Phuket Town yesterday.

“Also, fishing boats up to 60 gross tonnes must install Vessel Monitoring System [VMS],” said Phuket Marine Office chief Phuriphat Theerakulpisut.

“All new boats must install the devices in order to be registered. Boats that have already been registered must have the devices installed before their annual registration can be renewed.”

Boat operators caught failing to comply may face six months in jail, Mr Phuripat confirmed.

The use of AIS receivers is a standard safety policy in many places around the world, as they advise skippers of small craft of the location, direction and speed of larger vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver, he explained.

“We are pushing the new rules to improve safety on the water,” Mr Phuripat said. “With these devices fitted, we will be able to locate boats in distress, know their speed and direction, and possibly even determine fault in the case of an accident.”

Mr Phuripat warned the Phuket fishing fleet and the passenger and tour boat community last September that their boats would soon be brought under the same AIS requirements as foreign-registered vessels (story here).

His claim to ramp up safety on the water, and notably the hope of determining fault in the case of an accident, follows police being unable to press any charges over a heavy collision between a dive boat and a sailboat north of Koh Mai Thon, east of Phuket, on April 11 (story here).

— Chutharat Plerin

Phuket News

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