Bill requires ships to alert Customs before rendezvouses at sea
New legislation aimed in part at preventing guns and drugs from getting onto the Island was approved in the House of Assembly.
A section of the Revenue Amendment (No 2) Act 2012 is aimed to prevent ships from trading illegal items at sea by requiring ships that intend to meet with another vessel at sea to first notify the Collector of Customs.
However, Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards said the law would be difficult to enforce and easy for criminals to bypass.
Detailing the legislation, Premier Paula Cox noted that amendments to Section 7 of the act require the master of any departing ship which leaves any wharf or mooring with intent to rendezvous with any ship on a voyage starting outside Bermuda, or with any other ship making such a rendezvous, must make a simplified entry to the Collector of Customs before departing.
Those caught breaching the legislation would be liable to be fines of up to $6,000.
Mr Richards applauded the intent of the act, but questioned if the Government would be able to enforce the act.
He also noted that in order for ships to greet under the act, the ships must pass within 50ft of one another, saying that contraband could easily be passed between two boats without them passing 50ft of each other.
“We cannot assume that criminals are stupid,” Mr Richards said. “It’s pretty easy to get around this. That’s the problem I have with this.
“Fifty feet is not much, particularly on the high seas.”
The legislation also includes several other changes affecting customs, allowing customs officers board any ship to search for uncustomed goods.