today from the Chamber of Commerce....

Thank you to Mike Kuhn, of Tropic Air, who furnished our Chamber with a copy of the Belize Merchant & Harbor Shipping Act. (If you would like to read it yourself, it is available by request to the Chamber).

After careful review, it was not found to necessarily include private boats. The term “passenger trade” seems to indicate a vessel involved in a commercial activity. The actual legal definitions in our law are:

“vessel” includes a ship, boat or dory in whatever way propelled or any other description of vessel used in the coastal and river service or in conveying passengers from such vessel to land or vice versa.

“coastal and river service” means passenger trade between all places in Belize whether by sea or on any river or inland water and includes the coastal and river service between Belize and the coasts of the Republics of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua;

But I am not a lawyer…..

The law clearly states (as most of our laws do) that the Minister makes regulations, but:

“(2) All such regulations shall be submitted for approval to the National Assembly which may by resolution rescind, add to, alter or amend them, and upon such approval shall be published in two successive issues of the Gazette and thereafter shall have the force and effect of law.”

We are not aware of any additional regulations, nor have any been found to be published.

The sections (12-16) referring to registration and licensing of boats clearly is meant to only include boats over 5 tons as stated in Section 17. It actually says in the law “Saving clause as to vessels under five tons”

17. The provisions of sections 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 shall apply to vessels under five tons net register only in so far as the Minister shall by regulations prescribe, as to the examination and inspection of them and the issue of certificates in respect thereof.

So all small vessels are not included it the law, and the Minister would need to prescribe any of those regulations that would apply to those under 5 tons.

This also specifically provides for the exemption of small vessels, but still fairly sure it refers to only small commercial vessels:

(h) dividing the vessels into classes to which the regulations or any of them are to apply, and providing for the exemption of classes of vessels from the regulations or any of them and for the inspection and registration of vessels under five tons net register and for the issue of certificates therefore;