Marine Department proposes separate operating zones for swimming, jet skis, speedboats

Friday, 18 October 2013 From Issue Vol. XXI No. 42 By  Phasakorn Channgam

The Pattaya Marine Department is considering new regulations to take effect next month that would carve up the area’s shoreline into separate operating zones for swimming, jet skis and boats, hoping such a move ends the stream of deadly accidents involving tourists.

Marine Department Deputy Director Nut Jabjai told Banglamung District, Pattaya officials and police at an Oct. 3 meeting that he likes the idea of designating specific operating zones for water sports and could offer up new regulations in November.

Marine Department Deputy Director Nut Jabjai has put forth the idea of designating specific operating zones for water sports.Marine Department Deputy Director Nut Jabjai has put forth the idea of designating specific operating zones for water sports.

Boat-tour operators attending the meeting also were told they need to clean up their act. Unless tourists are on organized tours, travel insurance may not cover accidents, Nut said. But too many tour operators are being criticized for jacking up rates, operating without insurance or boat licenses, and having unsafe boats.

He said a variety of agencies are working together to form a comprehensive marine-safety department to solve the problems. Four tourists have been killed and dozens injured in boat-related accidents this year.

The best solution, however, may be designated operating zones, Nut said. Seventeen swimming zones would be established along area beaches, each measuring 300 by 150 meters. Separate zones would be set for banana boats, jet skis, restaurant boats and parasailing. Specific entry and exit routes would be set for boats.

Pattaya City Councilman Sanit Boonmachai, who also heads the Pattaya Tour Boat Operators Club, said he approved of Nut’s concept, but threw up several objections, saying low tides could make the plan problematic.

Specifically, Sanit said, the 200 by 800-meter banana boat zone would be unusable during low tide, he claimed. Jet skis would also suffer problems during low tide.

He said he also thought restricting jet skis to North Pattaya and banana boats to South Pattaya would make life difficult on operators.

Finally, Sanit claimed, restricting speedboat routes would increase costs by 75 percent. He offered no figures to back up his claim.

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh acknowledged the councilman’s objections, but said new regulations and operating zones must be established to cut down on accidents.

More meetings are planned to smooth over objections and finalize any proposed regulations.

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