New FL Law in Wake of Teen Fishermen Disappeared in Atlantic

Governor Scott has signed a bill into law that aims to get locator beacons into every boat, no matter how small, in the wake of the disappearance of two teens off the east Florida coast two years ago.

The new law provides for boat registration fee reductions for vessels equipped with locator beacons, making it easier for rescuers to find a boat in distress.

Boat registration fees vary depending on the size of the vessel. With the new beacon fee cut, fees that normally range from $5.50 to $189.75 will now range from $2.95 to $141.15.

Acceptable locator beacons are those attached to the boat itself, or attached to the people on the boat.

The law comes after 14 year olds Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen vanished after setting sail in their small boat from Jupiter Inlet out into the Atlantic Ocean for a day of fishing. They had no locator beacon that could have drawn the U.S. Coast Guard right to their location.

After signing the bill into law, Governor Scott remarked in a statement, “Just two years ago, we suffered the heartbreaking loss of two teenagers after sailing from the Jupiter Inlet. This important legislation encourages the use of safety measures to ensure this kind of tragedy never happens again.”

Florida uses reduced fees as an incentive for boaters to voluntarily purchase and keep on board safety devices, rather than mandating them by law.