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Recent Cancun Boating Incident Puts Spotlight On Unlicensed Tour Operators

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Following a recent incident that happened in the Nichupte Lagoon in Cancun last weekend, officials are cracking down on boat tours and drivers in the region. According to local news, the Nauticos de Cancun are calling on officials to impose strict fines for anyone conducting business that does not follow with the state’s navigation regulations in place.

Boat tied to dock in puerto morelos, mexico with blue waters and beach in background

If you plan on hiring a boat for the day in Cancun, it is now recommended that you make sure that the driver is officially registered and that the tour company is complying with the local guidance. 

This wasn’t always the case in Cancun or the rest of the Riviera Maya, as tourists could pretty much hire a tour guide or boat captain working in the area, and many wouldn’t think much else of it. But now, the parties involved could be subject to fines.

Three Jetskis with drivers in the turquoise blue Water in Cancun.

Local Nautical Sector Calls On Limiting Speed For Boats In Region

Last week’s accident involved a private tourist boat that was carrying five tourists, which sank near the Nichupte Lagoon in the Cancun Hotel Zone. A rescue mission quickly went underway, and two of the bodies were recovered the following day. The incident is still under investigation. 

The events sparked an outcry from the local nautical sector, as they have called upon the authorities to put in some penalties for those who don’t follow the guidance in place. One of the main issues noted was regarding the speed limits of the boats. 

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Cancun aerial view of Nichupte Lagoon at Hotel Zone in Mexico

The president of the Quintana Roo Nautical Associates, Francisco Fernández Millán, commented on the situation following the outcry. He explained that the QR Nautical Associates asked the Harbor Master’s Office to start reviewing the businesses working in the region and start the paperwork for the fines.

He said that if charged for not complying with the local laws, fines can range from 15,000 MX pesos ($760 USD) and, in some cases, can result in total confiscation of the boat, no matter the size or type of boat.

Nichupté Lagoon boat

“We have even insisted on renewing the signs, especially on the bridge and the channels of the Nichupté lagoon, as well as more operations so that those who are not complying can be verified and identified, if they do not do so, unfortunate events such as those of last weekend will continue to happen. of the week, where there were deaths,” Millán said.

bird resting on a stump in the Nichupte Lagoon near Cancun.

The reality is that tours of the lagoon often happen via private boats, including jet skis, and many don’t completely follow or respect the security measures in place. He claimed that this is especially true when it comes to respecting the speed limit. 

As it stands, the maximum speed limit when operating any size of boat in the lagoon is four miles per hour. Going over the limit puts all passengers at risk, and even more so when the space is overrun with tours and other boats. 

Tropical landscape with coconut palm on caribbean beach, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Tourists Should Check That Local Companies Follow Guidance

Millán also called upon all tourists to make sure that the proper protocol is being followed when renting these boats. He said that it’s important to check that the companies hired for the tours are certified and have all the security knowledge and measures in place, including having life jackets for all passengers on board. This can easily be checked via the operator’s website.

This is not the first time an incident has resulted in fatalities in the lagoon. In 2021, two people died following a gender-reveal stunt that resulted in a plane crash. The two plane captains were killed in the accident.

two speed boats filled with people at sea in Cancun.

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