Controversial proposals could be in place by next summer

In a move that could have implications for the rest of Europe, the Swedish government is reportedly planning to introduce compulsory licensing for some boat owners.

Sweden boasts 1 boat for every 12 of her nine million people, and Lars Hogdahl of the Ministry of Enterprise said, “Something like around 35-40 people get killed in pleasure boat accidents or disappear every year.”

Hogdahl is behind a proposal on licenses that could be in place by next summer. The idea has been mooted for more than a decade, but always met opposition among Swedes who think of boats as a ‘last freedom’.

Now, even though many boaters resent restrictions, support for his plan is building in a community fed up with fellow sailors who are ignorant, reckless or drunk. The proposal, which will apply to boats of seven meters or more or those that can exceed 10 knots, will be circulated in October to maritime groups and the coast guard.

Goran Andersson, chairman of the Swedish Boating Union, said his 160,000-strong club backs the plan. “We have something we call the Boat Parliament, where we decided to fight for this.” Mindful of a possible backlash from seafarers, the ministry is ready to exempt those who can document a large amount of experience on the sea.

Hogdahl himself will probably not be taking the exam. “I have owned a boat since I was a little boy,” he said. “I know what I’m talking about.”

See the full story at Reuters.