From “Trade Only Today” ~ 3/30/2005
Industry cheers bill to ease Bahamas return
- by JoAnn W. Goddard
industry leaders resoundingly support legislation introduced by a U.S. congressman that would ease the process of re-entering the country from international waters.
Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., yesterday announced the Recreational Boaters Streamlined Inspection
Act, which would allow boaters to check-in with immigration authorities by using a videophone.
“We couldn’t be happier,” Alison Pruitt, executive director of the Marine
Industries Association of Palm Beach County, said today. “We’re thrilled.”
Before the 9/11 attacks, boaters could call authorities to clear customs
but with beefed-up homeland security
restrictions since then, boaters now are required to check in at the nearest customs
office within 24 hours. Customs offices are often closed on weekends and have limited hours during the week. Pruitt says the waiting time during office hours can be lengthy.
Boaters have been so frustrated with the red tape
that they have stopped traveling outside U.S. waters, or they have failed to report to authorities upon return. Boaters in South Florida
, who frequently travel to the Bahamas
for weekend or overnight trips, were particularly affected, said Pruitt. “What used to be a pretty straightforward weekend trip became difficult,” she said.
Under the legislation, boaters could check in with customs officials 24 hours a day using videophones at 13 points of entry from Key West
to the Sebastian Inlet. The phones would be installed at kiosks at the entrance to ports
JoAnn W. Goddard