According to United State Coast Guard (USCG) guidance on the Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993, voluntary cost-sharing is ALLOWED between fishing buddies. The USCG to be clear, stated twice in their advising document, “the voluntary sharing of the actual expenses of the voyage” is not “consideration”. Per Sec. 507 of the advising USCG document, consideration or economic benefit, inducement, right, or profit accruing to a fishing buddy DOES NOT include the “voluntary sharing of the actual expenses of the voyage, by monetary contribution” (ie. cost-sharing) “or donation of fuel, food, beverage, or other supplies.”
You can find the full USCG document NAVIGATION AND VESSEL INSPECTION CIRCULAR NO. 7-94, Subj: GUIDANCE ON THE PASSENGER VESSEL SAFETY ACT OF 1993 at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/nvic/pdf/1994/n7-94.pdf.
The key to this USCG guidance is the voluntary nature of the cost-sharing. If the consideration is a “condition of carriage on the vessel” (as it is for professionally licensed charter operators and businesses) then the voyage is considered a ‘passenger for hire’ operation. This is why charter companies must charge a reasonable fee for their services. They need to cover their captain’s income, extensive licensing and training costs, marketing costs, and physical facilities, along with the actual costs of the voyage. Cost-sharing or splitting costs with your fishing buddy means you only split the actual costs of the voyage such as gas, bait, and supplies. The two types of payments cannot and should not be compared.
In all cases of Fishwithme.net club member cost-sharing, members can choose whether or not to engage in voluntary cost-sharing with their fishing buddies. If the buddies choose to engage in cost-sharing, they then can also choose whether or not to transact the cost-sharing securely online or in person. Fishwithme.net cost-sharing is NEVER required as a condition of carriage. Fishwithme.net monetary cost-sharing is always a voluntary contribution agreed upon between the host and the guest to cover, but not exceed, the actual expenses of the voyage (fuel, bait, chum, gas, food, beverages, and supplies). This policy adheres to both the spirit and the letter of the USCG law, The Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993.
Relevant passages from the USCG Guidance Document:
NAVIGATION AND VESSEL INSPECTION CIRCULAR NO. 7-94
Subj: GUIDANCE ON THE PASSENGER VESSEL SAFETY ACT OF 1993
SEC. 506. PASSENGER FOR HIRE. Section 2101 of title 46, United States Code, is amended by inserting between paragraphs (21) and (22) a new paragraph (21a) to read as follows: 23 “(21a) ‘passenger for hire’ means a passenger for whom consideration is contributed as a condition of carriage on the vessel, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, charterer, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vessel.”. DESCRIPTION – The determination of what constitutes the carriage of a “passenger for hire” must be made on a case by case basis. This determination is dependent upon the actual operation of a vessel and the flow of consideration as determined by the facts of each case. In general, there needs to be some form of tangible consideration or promise of performance being passed for a “passenger for hire” situation to exist.
SEC. 507. CONSIDERATION. Section 2101 of title 46, United States Code, is amended by inserting between paragraphs (5) and (6) a new paragraph (5a) to read as follows: “(5a) ‘consideration’ means an economic benefit, inducement, right, or profit including pecuniary payment accruing to an individual, person, or entity, but not including a voluntary sharing of the actual expenses of the voyage, by monetary contribution or donation of fuel, food, beverage, or other supplies.”. DESCRIPTION – Section 507 amends 46 U.S.C. 2101 by adding a definition of the term “consideration.” Although this term was used in the prior definition of a “passenger,” it was not previously defined by statute. Generally, some tangible amount of worth exchanged for carriage on a vessel such as payment, exchange of goods or a promise of performance is required. “Consideration” does not include a voluntary sharing of the actual expenses of a voyage. Additionally, employees or business clients that have not contributed for their carriage, and are carried for mor ale or entertainment purposes is not included as exchange of consideration.