Senator Ileana Garcia, Miami River Commission and South Florida Law Enforcement Continue Collaboration to Prioritize Boating Safety

Senator Ileana Garcia (R-Miami), in collaboration with the Miami River Commission and local law enforcement, seeks to establish a joint law enforcement substation on the Miami River to address the serious issues stemming from widespread illegal vessel charter and livery operations.

These illegitimate operations have contributed to increased accidents and fatalities in South Florida waterways as a result of violating federal and state laws and dishonest business practices. Embarking and disembarking unaware clients over public seawalls, off major roadways, or by trespassing on private property are not only unscrupulous business practices, but are also potentially dangerous to the public and destructive to the surrounding environment and natural resources. Additionally, many of these illegal vessels are not U.S. Coast Guard certified or crewed by certified professionals, and they may lack appropriate insurance coverage.

“These bad actors are tarnishing the reputation South Floridians have as respectful and responsible boaters,” said Senator Garcia. “Everyone I have met shares the same consensus that something needs to be done to address the up-tick in criminal activity that had started before the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasing patrol presence on the river will prove critical and it fills me with pride seeing the goodwill and effort being put forward by law enforcement, our local and county governments and officials, and the Miami River Commission to address this serious issue.”

This summer, Senator Garcia met with the Miami River Commission, visited the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Biscayne Bay headquarters, and participated in several ride-alongs with the U.S. Coast Guard, FWC and local marine law enforcement units to gather firsthand knowledge of the increase in criminal activity on the Miami River and Biscayne Bay stemming from widespread illegal vessel charter and livery operations. The consensus among local officials is that a joint effort to increase law enforcement presence on the Miami River and strengthen enforcement tools is of the utmost importance.

“I want to thank Senator Garcia for her support of law enforcement,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “It is paramount we work together to conserve our natural resources and provide a safe boating environment for all residents and visitors.”

“The Miami River Commission applauds Senator Ileana Garcia’s strong support for law enforcement on and along the Miami River,” said Miami River Commission Chairman Horacio Stuart Aguirre. “At the recent first reading of the Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget, the City of Miami Commission unanimously, and wisely, approved an increase of five City of Miami Marine Patrol Officers, and the Miami-Dade Commission unanimously, and likewise wisely, approved an increase of four County Marine Patrol Officers. Together, along with U.S. Coast Guard and the FWC, they will enforce all laws in the Miami River, including the idle no-wake speed zone, in order to protect the threatened Manatee, shorelines, docks, and boats.”