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Commercial fishermen with small boats get break on insurance

NANCY POWELL ¦ Staff Writer

Not all boats at the commercial harbor can obtain as much liability insurance coverage as the county wanted. Not all boats at the commercial harbor can obtain as much liability insurance coverage as the county wanted.Oct. 19, 2012) Some commercial fishing operations that lease boat slips at the commercial harbor in West Ocean City will not be obligated to have $1 million in liability coverage.

The county’s lease agreement obligates the lesee, the operator who leases the slip, to maintain that level of liability coverage, but some lesees are unable to obtain that coverage because of the size of their vessels.

County attorney Sonny Bloxom told the Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday that because of industry standards for certain types of commercial boats, some of the smaller commercial vessels are allowed limits only up to $250,000.

“It’s almost cost prohibitive for the smaller boats,” Bloxom said.

Because of that information, the county commissioners voted unanimously to revise the lease agreement to a minimum amount of $250,000.

Five of the eight slips are leased by operators who obtained the $1 million in liability coverage.

One leaseholder has $300,000 in that coverage and two leaseholders were limited to $250,000 in coverage.

The commissioners voted 6-1 on Aug. 21 to award two-year leases for eight boat slips at the commercial marina in West Ocean City.

Those leases became effective Sept. 23.

Bids for the three 100-foot-long slips ranged from $9,000 to $10,001.99 and bids for the five 75-foot-long slips ranged from $3,000 to $8,000.

To qualify to bid on the boat slips, all bidders must be commercial fishermen and they must certify that they will use the dock space at least 270 days each year.

They must be the sole owner of a commercial fishing vessel or own at least 50 percent of the stock or partnership that owns the vessel.

No more than two boats may use dock space at any one time.

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