State lawmakers want parasailing industry to increase safety standards

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SARASOTA, FLA. - After a safety brief, customers of Siesta Key Water Sports are ready for a para-sailing trip off Siesta Key Beach with Captain Mark Kanya, who is serious about safety.

"Especially in our industry, you have to take it very, very serious,” said Kanya.

Siesta Key Water sports says it has been accident free for its 23 years in business but other para-sailing companies across the state have had accidents and even deaths.

State Lawmakers have been trying unsuccessfully for several years to pass laws to govern the para-sailing industry. House Bill 347 was filled in Tallahassee last week and if passed it will make it illegal to operate a para-sail during bad weather including high winds or low visibility. The bill will also require companies to carry at least $1million of liability insurance. Kanya thinks the regulations are a good idea for his industry.

"It is important for passenger safety. We are out here for the customers and if it wasn't for the customers then none of us would be in business."

Kanya tells ABC7 the para-sailing industry has self-regulated for years under the Water Sports Industry Association or WSIA.

"Really, what the laws are going to come from is what we all agree on"

He says the WSIA met last month St. Petersburg for a para-sailing operators symposium and specifically talk about safety standards. He says the WSIA are working with lawmakers, the Coast Guard and other state and federal officials involved with boating safety.

If the proposed bill is passed in 2014 Legislature it would be called the White-Miskell Act after two women who were killed para-sailing in Florida.