Ocean scene (JPG)

Date published: 2nd March 2023

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has been granted more powers to prosecute the dangerous misuse of personal watercraft such as jet skis.

From March 31 2023, the new law will come into force, allowing watercraft users to be prosecuted and bound by the same laws and regulations that apply to ships to prevent accidents.

North Norfolk District Council have been working closely with the Broads Beat and Marine Police, MCA and RNLI over the last year, reviewing the behaviours and usage of jet skis along the Norfolk coastline and will continue to do so, with a focus on the new laws.

This change in the law helps the MCA crack down on those found guilty of using their watercraft dangerously and posing a risk to others and marine life and could receive an unlimited fine and/or up to two years in prison.

The new legislation will introduce stronger power to deal with injury, death or damage caused by dangerous conduct and will tighten the need to register personal watercraft.

Jets skis and personal and recreational watercraft must follow the ‘Highway Code of the Sea’ (COLREGS). These international regulations require users to act safely by maintaining awareness of their surroundings, driving at safe speeds and outlining their responsibilities to other vessels, among other things.

This new law has come into force due to the increasing size, power and availability of watercraft such as jet skis and their use significantly rising around the UK without requiring any formal licence.

Last summer, the Police ran an investigative day called Operation SeaBird, which involved stopping at beaches by sea and land between Morston and Sea Palling, meeting with jet ski users, monitoring behaviour, checking for data-tagging of jet skis and advising of safe usage.

The purpose of the day was not to catch out jet ski users or prosecute them but instead to create and encourage safer usage and positive relationships between personal watercraft users and other beachgoers.

Guy Metcalf, Leisure & Locality Services Team Leader, NNDC said:

“There have been several incidents reported to us over the last six to nine months where jet-skiers have been seen to be behaving and controlling their watercraft dangerously around other beachgoers as well as around marine life, for example scaring the seals at Horsey.

“There are certain rules that personal watercraft users abide by when launching a craft, such as remaining under 8 knots (9mph) of speed until beyond 200 yards from the low water mark at the shoreline.

“We are actively trying to work with all parties related here, from the emergency services to the jet skiers and local business owners, as we want this to be a positive and harmonious effort and we want everyone to be able to enjoy our beautiful coastline equally, but it’s got to be respected to enable everyone to enjoy our beaches safely.”

Find out more about the new law here - www.gov.uk/government/news/reckless-jet-skiers-to-face-prison-and-unlimited-fines-thanks-to-law-change

For more information about jet skiing or personal watercraft use in North Norfolk here - www.north-norfolk.gov.uk/tasks/your-community/find-out-where-can-i-use-jet-skis-or-power-boats

Last updated: 12th April 2023