THE day’s of charter skippers taking you fishing with a ‘yo ho ho!’ and a bottle of rum are numbered.

Legislation currently going through Parliament under the Railways and Transport Safety Bill will introduce safety levels of drinking on all mariners and water borne vessels.

These limits, which are set to become law by the end of this year, will be enforced in a similar way to today’s drink driving legislation with police and marine officials being given the power to test individuals using breathalysers and other standard tests.

The new laws will apply to all charter skippers and employed ‘hands’, and it will also apply to the owners of private fishing boats, although it’s thought those with small, low powered boats may be made exempt.

At present some local bye-laws allow certain harbour officials in some ports to detain craft from putting to see if they suspect the skippers are ‘impaired by drink or drugs’.

This new Bill will extend this nationwide to all marine officials.

The Bill is a response to recommendations drawn up in the Hayes report following the Marchioness disaster in 1989. Fifty one people lost their lives on August 20, 1989 when the passenger boat Marchioness collided with the Bowbelle dredger.

Three years later, on completion of the Hayes report, the Department of Transport advised that a breath test be introduced which would apply to the skippers and crew of all vessels.

A further public enquiry resulted in the new proposed legislation which is only now going through Parliament.