This is according to the Director of the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, John Samuel. The entity has oversight for maritime administration issues in the BVI, including the responsibility to conduct marine accident investigations where ever marine accidents may take place.
While appearing as a guest on the Honestly Speaking radio show, Samuel said the issue of marine accidents is one the Registry has struggled with in recent years.
One of the challenges that boaters in the BVI struggle with is that they know the waters mentally, Samuel said.
“When you operate knowing an area mentally, you operate very differently than if you had to actually practice navigation to operate safely. So you become more relaxed—your attention, you’re not as focused,“ Samuel said.
“Because we know the area so well and we can navigate it almost blindly, we perhaps tend maybe to not pay as much attention as we should when we are operating out on the water,” he further explained.
As a mitigation measure, Samuel suggested that safety campaigns needed to be improved and said the safety culture on the water also needed to be changed to give people a greater appreciation of the need to operate safely while on the water.
And although legislation has been in place for more than two years, the department continues to try to fill the vacancy of a chief accident investigator.
Following an accident, such officials conduct investigations and will sometimes make recommendations about changes in legislation or changes in practices that need to be made.
With a recent marine accident having involved a fatality, Samuel said the organisation was required to reach out to an experienced accident investigator, Graeme Morkel, to investigate on its behalf.