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Aruba Government Introduces New Measures for Aquatic Activity Safety

Aruba Government Introduces New Measures for Aquatic Activity Safety

In a move to ensure the safety of everyone enjoying Aruba’s beautiful blue waters, a comprehensive reevaluation of aquatic activity management was deemed necessary. During a press conference, Minister of Transport, Ursell Arends, announced the new implementation of the watersport policy. This policy, approved by the Council of Ministers on May 28, 2024, aims to enhance safety and sustainability in the sector requiring watersport permits in Aruba.

Temporary Suspension for Review

In April 2022, a temporary halt was placed on requests for permits to conduct aquatic activities (such as passenger transportation for hire) to assess the current situation, focusing on both environmental and safety aspects. After extensive consultations with various stakeholders, including the Maritime Authority, Coast Guard, Maritime Police, ATA, and AHATA, it became clear that a comprehensive review of the law was essential.

A study on the sector’s capacity and sustainability is also crucial. However, recognizing the time this study will take, a temporary management system is being introduced to avoid negatively impacting existing companies while the study is being finalized.

Key Areas of Focus: Replacement, Expansion, and Safety
Replacement
  • All new permit requests are suspended until further notice.
  • Requests submitted before January 1, 2024, to replace a boat will be processed accordingly.
  • For similar boat replacements, the Maritime Authority will conduct necessary investigations and administrative adjustments.
Expansion
  • Expansion requests submitted before January 1, 2024, will be processed.
  • Companies offering boat trips, fishing, snorkeling, and diving can qualify to expand their permits by adding a boat to their operations if they meet all legal requirements.
  • Permit holders must obtain liability insurance in accordance with Article 19 of the Public Waters and Beaches Decree AB 1987 no. 124.
  • This insurance must be submitted to the Maritime Authority each time it is renewed.
Safety
  • From January 1, 2025, all commercial boats for aquatic activities must be equipped with a “propeller guard.”
  • For activities involving passenger transportation on the water (e.g., tubing, parasailing), at least one of two company personnel must be present on the boat for safety reasons.
  • It is prohibited to moor a boat or other objects, with or without buoys, at shipwrecks, corals, or buoys marking land/buffer zones (e.g., Antilla).
Access and Information Session

The watersport policy is available on publico.aw under the Management section. Minister Arends also announced an informative session for businesses in the watersport industry. If an invitation is not received by Tuesday, June 11, 2024, companies can email naturalesa@gobierno.aw with company details to be added to the database.

“We identified a lack of information when purchasing a business over a sole proprietorship with a watersport permit. A permit for a sole proprietorship cannot be bought — that would count as a new request. Additionally, if a sole proprietorship changes to a legal entity (e.g., VBA, NV), it is also considered a new request. You can purchase a legal entity but not a natural person,” Minister Arends added.

Ensuring Safety and Sustainability

Minister Arends emphasized that these changes in management are essential to ensure the safety and sustainability of aquatic activities in Aruba. He believes these measures will improve the experience for both residents and tourists, maintaining a high standard of safety and environmental protection.

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