Dubai: Boat owners in the UAE will be fined if they do not install electronic trackers used to help coastguards locate them in an emergency.
Owners of fishing boats, sailing boats and commercial vessels that weigh less than 300 tonnes have to install security and maritime safety tags while a tracking device (AIS) is mandatory for all vessels that weigh over 300 tonnes, a senior maritime security official said.
Omar Al Za'abi, head of marine licensing at the Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA), told Gulf News that the installation of the device and the tracking system was based on Cabinet decision No. 29 of 2007 pertaining to the identification of ships.
The CNIA has designated 996 as the emergency hotline for reporting marine emergencies and the tracking device is critical in enabling coastguards to track boats in the event of accidents and drowning incidents besides instances of boats going missing, he added
"People dialling this number will be connected with a highly trained CNIA team who will take the appropriate action to alert the necessary rescue services", Al Za'abi said.
"We recommend that all boat owners contact the number 996 before sailing, and inform their families about their location. The number has all the details about weather and sea conditions, necessary precautions and guidelines. The device will help rescue teams to determine the exact location of various types of boats in case of emergencies," he said.
"The security safety device will be placed on all fishing and sailing boats licensed in the UAE as well as commercial boats that weigh less than 300 tonnes, and tracking device (AIS) will be placed on all vessels that weight more than 300 tonnes, Al Za'abi said.
Officials can track the device across UAE waters.
However, failing to install the devices will prove costly, he warned.
The authority will impose a Dh5,000 fine on boats without tracking or safety devices and also impound such vessels until the device is installed. Advertisements were recently placed in the media announcing the new regulations, Al Za'abi said.
"This procedure is for people's safety, and we will make sure that everybody installs it," he said. The device will entail a cost of Dh7,000 for expatriates while UAE nationals can have it fitted for free. The CNIA will regulate installation of the device.
A boat owner who requested anonymity said the tracker system causes problems for boats because they tend to deplete the battery. "I have seen these trackers fitted, and I think they are a good idea, but they do not work well with the boats," he said. "The batteries run down much more quickly. I know people are trying to find a solution but I don't think they know how to get around this yet."
Avoiding rough waters
- Fine for sailing in a vessel which doesn't have a safety or tracking device installed or operational — Dh5,000.
- Fine for failing to report device loss, damage, or malfunction within the required period — Dh200.
- Fine for attempting to remove the device or its accessories without Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA) approval — Dh 5,000
- Special Conditions:
- Ownership of the device is non-transferable.
- n The vessel owner must contact CNIA in case of selling, purchasing, exchanging, or putting to a new use a vessel which has a device already installed on it.