The council’s cabinet member for community safety has welcomed a new national consultation seeking to strengthen enforcement around the dangerous use of personal watercraft.
The Department for Transport consultation proposes altering legislation to bring ‘recreational and personal watercraft’ within scope of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. This would mean that personal watercraft and other recreational watercraft users will be subject to the same safety obligations, where appropriate, that exist for the operators of ships, and enforcement authorities will have an additional power of prosecution to be used in cases of deliberate or negligent misuse.
At present, councils and harbour authorities can set bylaws that require registration of jet skis, payment of fees and adherence to speed limits, with users facing £1,000 fines for misusing the vehicles. However, powers are geographically limited and this means a patchwork of regulations. Existing bylaws will be retained under any change made to the regulations.
Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and with responsibility for pier and foreshore, says: “I am very pleased to see this consultation launched which proposes to close a legal loophole which currently allows “personal watercraft” including jet skis to be operated outside the scope of maritime law. We have experienced very serious and dangerous behavior this year putting bathers, swimmers, paddleboarders and working fisherman at risk, and we need these less complicated powers to stop this
“It could mean irresponsible users of such craft being sent to prison for up to two years which would act as a strong deterrent and hopefully encourage anyone thinking of acting inconsiderately on our waters to think twice. Whilst many of those using our wonderful waterfront do behave properly, we do also see dangerous behaviour and so I welcome this proposal and consultation on strengthening enforcement powers for authorities.”
The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 1 November 2021