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Help keep our coasts safe

Published Friday 12 April, 2024
Last updated on Tuesday 14 May, 2024

Council issues a warning to irresponsible jet ski users this Summer, as they could face unlimited fines and prison.

Swale Borough Council have teamed up with Peel Ports, HM Coastguard and others to form the Swale Personal Watercraft Partnership (PWP) to warn against dangerous jet ski use.

Peel Ports will be performing regular enforcement days, starting this Easter, covering the Medway and Swale to make sure people are not acting recklessly on their personal watercraft.

This includes enforcing the 8 knots speed limit in Queenborough harbour and 6 knots limit upriver of Folly Point.

While the Coastguard and RNLI Sheerness Lifeboat will be ready to respond in the case of an emergency in the water.

Following a change in government legislation the council now have the power to issue unlimited fines to anyone riding a jet ski carelessly or causing harm to others, and they could face up to two years in prison.

The legislation puts the responsibility on users, operators and owners of powered watercraft to make sure they protect not just themselves but others in the water from harm.

The council have also installed signage to warn against this kind of behaviour which, since covid, has increased significantly resulting in completely avoidable tragedies in the water.

If you are thinking of using a jet ski, please make sure you:

  • Ride in company
  • Get trained and insured
  • Respect marine life and others in the water and keep your distance
  • Act responsibly and protect and promote safe riding

Cllr Rich Lehmann, chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee, said:  

“As Summer approaches, we know people will want to get out into the water and take advantage of the warmer weather.

“But it is important for jet ski users to understand their responsibilities to make sure they aren’t risking their, or anyone else’s, lives.  

“You need to observe the speed limits, keep your distance from wildlife and other people enjoying the water and ensure you are trained.

“If you are caught riding recklessly or, even worse, hurt anyone, you will face unlimited fines and possible jail time.

“We need to work together to avoid tragedies in the water and make sure everyone can enjoy our borough’s beautiful coastline.”

Ian Mill, Head of Marine – Peel Ports London Medway, said:

“As the statutory harbour authority, responsible for the safety of navigation, we always encourage safe and enjoyable use of the River Medway and Swale and will continue our work with our local partners to ensure that any irresponsible, reckless or dangerous behaviour is dealt with in the appropriate manner, using all available powers.

"This year we have doubled the number of patrols compared to last year and will be focusing our efforts in both educating, as well as enforcing our by-laws.

"As always, we thank the vast majority of responsible river users for their good conduct and ask for your co-operation in reporting anti-social behaviour on the river."

If you are thinking of using a jet ski, please make sure you:

  • Plan where you are launching – remember to observe local codes of conduct, speed limits, and any launch conditions. If in doubt, ask the local Harbourmaster
  • Always wear a buoyancy aid
  • Carry a means to call for help – you can contact the Coastguard via 999 or via VHF radio on channel 16. There have been calls for such legislation to be passed for years
  • Keep your distance from other water users
  • Keep your distance when viewing wildlife, avoid erratic movements and do not pursue wildlife when it chooses to leave
  • Get training and insurance – a Personal Watercraft course will teach you the skills you need to ride a PWC responsibly, safely and with confidence. You can find accredited courses near you on the Royal Yachting Association website – www.rya.org.uk/training/personal-watercraft

If you witness reckless, dangerous or intimidating use of a jet ski please report it to the local harbourmaster’s office if the jet ski user is in or around a harbour, and call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if you see someone in trouble at sea.

Remember to include as much detail as possible including:

  • Make and model of jet ski/PWC
  • Registration number of jet ski/PWC
  • Details of the driver
  • Associated car/vehicle details
  • Photos and videos
  • Time of the incident

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