BVI Defers Harbor Fees

After receiving an influx of complaints from the marine industry, both locally and abroad, the British Virgin Islands government announced July 15 its decision to indefinitely defer levying harbor fees on all vessels entering or remaining in territorial waters and on those using BVI Ports Authority facilities.

In a statement made July 15, available via Virgin Islands Platinum News’s Web site, Premier Honorable Ralph O’Neal said that implementing the new legislation might have made the BVI “the most expensive destination in the world for mariners and yachts.” The Cabinet came to this decision after reviewing the new harbor fees at a specially convened meeting on July 14.

The new fee structure, which was announced June 10, was scheduled to take effect July 1, and was postponed until July 15 before being indefinitely deferred, would have charged vessels harbor fees of $1.00 per foot, $0.75 per foot, and $0.50 per foot for the first, second, and subsequent days, respectively. An additional $1.00 per foot per day would have been charged for the use of Ports Authority facilities, according to the Virgin Islands Official Gazette, the BVI government’s official newspaper.

Boats less than 15 feet and those that are home-ported in the BVI would have been exempt from the harbor fees, but the fees would have significantly increased the cost of a stay in the BVI for other visitors. For example, a 40-foot boat spending a week in the BVI would have racked up $170 in harbor fees, plus charges of up to $280 for the use of Ports Authority facilities.

The BVI government also established a seven-member focus group and Cabinet committee to review the harbor fees. The focus group is expected to submit a report to the Cabinet by this September.

Posted: July 23, 2008

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