Reckless jet skiers to face prison and fines

Andrew Muir MLA has welcomed news that new legislation to be introduced to tackle reckless jet skiers and other watercraft users will improve the safety of swimmers.

Andrew Muir

The new legislation, which comes into effect on 31 March, will give the Maritime and Coastguard Agency more powers to prosecute perpetrators of accidents.

The legislation considers a recent government consultation on the issue to which Mr Muir submitted a response on behalf of residents of North Down.

The North Down MLA said: "We have all seen how the increased use of our beaches and coastline has occurred during the pandemic, with more people taking up water based hobbies. However, with the increased uptake of activities like sea swimming, we must ensure that the water remains safe for all. Indeed, I secured an Adjournment debate regarding the issue in the last term of the Assembly.

I have previously received concerns from residents regarding jet skis and boats coming close to swimmers and paddle boarders at the beach in Helen's Bay. I've seen pictures showing that jet skiers cannot see swimmers when sailing in waters close to the shore, highlighting the need for swimmers to wear tow floats when swimming. 

“I want to particularly pay tribute to the many local groups who have highlighted this issue with me, including the Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers, Helen's Baywatch, the Brompton Belles and Beaux Dippers.

I'm delighted to see the government acting to ensure a safe water-based environment for all. The law will come into place on the 31st of March 2023, meaning it will be in place as the Spring and Summer water-based activities start to re-commence."

Andrew concluded, "My party colleague Stephen Farry MP submitted a Written Question to the Department for Transport to enquire how the legislation will be enforced. It was confirmed that the Maritime and Coastguard agency will be the government body to ensure the safe use of our shared waters. I have arranged to meet the agency based in Bangor to enquire about their plans for enforcement."