The Coast Guard is warning the public and boaters about illegal charter boat operations this summer. And they suggest some popular trends may be partly to blame.

Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Scott of the Coast Guard's Atlantic City Detachment says commercial charter boat operations must be properly trained and licensed to carry passengers for any purpose — fishing, sightseeing or whatever.

"With the advent of ride sharing, apartment sharing, we are noticing that people are also doing boat sharing," he said.

Scott says that makes a boat a commercial charter boat, and it must follow rules and regulations.

"So what the Coast Guard is finding is that this is a national issue," he said. "When somebody on a recreational vessel takes somebody else and is compensated for it, they're paid for it, they're becoming a charter vessel at that point in time. And once that happens, now they fall under the laws and regulations that require them to have a merchant mariner credential and proper licensing for the operator as well as the proper safety equipment for a passenger vessel."

Illegal charters are not certified by the Coast Guard or held to federal safety standards. They also warn that people caught operating an illegal charter boat operation could be subject to arrest and significant fines.

But so far, according to Chief Scott, "what we're finding in New Jersey is that most of the operators are doing the right thing."

The Coast Guard this summer has taken nearly a dozen enforcement actions on the Jersey Shore.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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