First, if you are a Charter Boat operation or Captain, and you have all of the legally required items listed, you, like me are more than happy to let it be known. If you are lacking and simply not aware of some requirements, then hopefully this helps. If like a few who have objected to these rules being posted (because they choose not to follow them), its these operaters that the rules are being posted, so as to protect potential clients.
With so many people offering Fishing Charters in Florida, it would be good to know which ones are Legal, and which are not. As an owner and operator of an offshore Charter Fishing business, ACME Ventures llc, running the Wile E. Coyote, I know just how much it cost to be legal, and sadly many operators choose to make themselves some extra money by side-stepping many requirements. If they are willing to do this what else will they short-cut, that may affect your safety. Below is a list of some of the requirements to run a legal Charter Fishing business. This will reflect primarily the "6-Pack" or "UPV" Charters that carry up to 6 paying passengers. These may be inshore trips, or offshore, but both have minimun standards to meet.
1)A USCG licensed Captain must be on board, with a current license, and TWIC card. They also must have a current first aid card. They must also be involved in a random drug testing program.
***Without a TWIC card, a Captain is not legal to operate as such***
2)The boat must be commercially registered, and be UPV equipped, with the USCG required gear for a Charter boat. Additional gear is required, such as a 19" minimum life ring, Type 1 PFD's with lights, whitles, reflective tape, and labeled with either the boats name or numbers. The Captain is required to carry nautical information on board for the waters your traveling, including a Coast Pilot, Lights List, and Tide Chart. There are placecards required on the boat also, dealing with trash and oil. And very important is an emergency plan, which is to be in writing. Although Radio's and GPS locators are not required, they are very important. Captains are also required to have up to date First Aid credentials, and be enrolled in a random drug testing program.
3)A FWC fishing license must cover the guest while fishing. This may either be a "boat" or "captain" FWC fishing license. (some try to skirt this rule, by offering their services as a guide, but all other
rules apply, and then it is still a grey area, but everyone must have kicense coverage, of proof of
4)If fishing offshore, there are several Federal Permits required to be legal. I have (4) permits, and an operator card, which are all necessary for most any offshore fishing trip. (NOAA permits) NOTE: These federal permits are also required, as are the regulations of fishing for Charter boats operating in state waters (3mi Atlantic / 9mi Gulf) seaward of the demarkation line (Charter, Headboats, and boats for hire). If you offer your services or boat for fishing for profit these are manditory.
5)Certain area's, such as the Canaveral National seashore, require special registration to offer trips into these waters.
6)The appropriate State and County licenses are required to operate as a business.
Before booking a Charter, ask if they meet all of these requirements, and don't be hesitant to ask to see their credentals. I have invested a lot of time and money to have a legal opertion, and don't mind one bit showing it. Those that are not willing to show they are legal are to be avoided. Your putting your lives in their hands, so make sure they have taken all the required steps to run a legitimate and safe business.
The many legal Charter Operations out there will, like me have no issue's with these rules being listed.
Good Fishing....and Catching!
ACME Ventures llc
407-349-1546 / 321-794-7955