NASSAU, Bahamas — The lobbying of Marine Operators of the Bahamas is paying off for the local boating community: the government is drafting amendments that give boat thieves a tougher penalty.
The amendments now consider the value of the stolen vessel and the damage it causes to the nation’s boat tourism reputation, according to an article in The Bahamas Tribune.
In June, men were fined $1,000 each for stealing a $350,000 boat. Details of the new amendments were not available.
So far this year, 50 vessels have been reported stolen to the Marine Support Services Branch of the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Thirty of them have been recovered. This is a higher rate of recovery than in 2010.
Stolen boats are typically stripped of engines and dumped, or used to smuggle drugs or people.
An economic impact report in the Bahamas ranks pleasure boat visitors as the third largest way that tourists access the country’s islands.
In 2009, boating accounted for 71,000 stopovers in the country, primarily in the Out Islands and Grand Bahama.
Stephen Kappeler, chairman of the Out Islands Promotion Board and general manager of Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina, told the Nassau Guardian that the number of slips in The Bahamas has grown to about 3,000.
Considering the number of pleasure boats in the U.S., the country sees untapped potential in creating more boating tourism. The Marine Operators of The Bahamas is collaborating with the Ministry of Tourism to increase pleasure boat visits.
Initiatives include marketing, an improved website and better maps.
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Out Island operators expanding on marina potential