CLEARWATER, FL —The continued widening of many Americans’ waistlines has begun to impact the Bay area leisure boating trade.
The U.S. Coast Guard began enforcing a new rule in December requiring businesses to reduce the number of passengers they allow on boats because of an increase in average weight of passengers.
That means business owners, like Charlie Ward, of Starlite Cruises in Pinellas County Florida, will see less passengers — and less profit.
“We’ve taken a 15 percent reduction in available passengers,” said Ward.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the average American now weighs around 185 pounds. That’s up from 160 pounds, which was the previous average used to calculate boat capacity.
Coast Guard Marine Inspector, Lt. Steven Melvin says the number one key aboard these vessels is safety for passengers. “You know there are stability factors that go in to play for each vessel.”
Lt. Melvin also said the Coast Guard looked at recent boating accidents in determining the new regulations. They determined the weight of people on board did factor into some injuries and even fatalities.
The airline industry had to take a look at the old weight standards back in 2003 after the crash of US Airways Express flt 5481. The FAA noted at the time that the old standard weights were no longer safe.