Send your photos, videos or accounts of dangerous boat handling under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the Department for Transport before 1st November!

The Department for Transport (DfT) is running a consultation on strengthening enforcement against the dangerous use of recreational and personal watercraft. The consultation mainly concerns the dangerous use of craft such as jetskis. However the DfT is also asking in Question 12 for respondents to submit documentary evidence that alcohol or drug use among recreational mariners is leading to safety concerns or an increased number of accidents or incidents.

The closing date is 1st November. Send your evidence (photos, videos or written descriptions) and any response to the consultation to with the subject heading: Consultation on enforcement re dangerous use of recreational and personal watercraft.

If you are interested in responding to the main consultation this is the DfT’s summary below. The consultation document is here consultation-strengthening-enforcement-of-the-dangerous-use-of-recreational-and-personal-watercraft

We suggest that you may wish to respond to Question 3 stating that the DfT should word any new legislation in such a way as to avoid the unintended consequences of boats that are used as homes falling into the definition of ‘recreational’ craft or ‘other watercraft’; that DfT should not define boats that are homes as ‘pleasure boats/ pleasure craft’ or navigation by residential boats as ‘pleasure navigation’; and that boats used as homes should be placed in new categories entitled ‘residential boats/ residential craft’ and ‘residential navigation’.

Here is the DfT’s summary of the consultation:

1.1 This consultation seeks your views on proposed legislation from the Department for Transport (the Department) to bring recreational and personal watercraft (PWCs) within scope of the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA) 1995. They will apply the same obligations which exist for the operators of ships, as appropriate, to PWCs and other recreational watercraft to ensure that they are operated safely. They will also provide, in cases of deliberate or negligent misuse, an additional power of prosecution for enforcement authorities.

1.2 The use of recreational watercraft and riding of PWCs is, in most cases, conducted both sensibly and safely. However, there remains a minority of users who, through their actions, can endanger other water users.

1.3 Local and harbour authorities, who have responsibility for managing a particular stretch of water or coastline, have powers to introduce legislation to manage PWC use within their areas. Many have already used these to excellent effect and to prosecute PWC users who do not follow these rules.

1.4 However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the number and severity of incidents and accidents is increasing including in areas which are outside of managed waters. Legislation covering recreational watercraft and PWC use in these areas was originally thought to have been in place under the MSA 1995. Following a court case, in which one PWC user crashed into another causing significant injuries, a subsequent judgment by the Court of Appeal brought this position into question.

1.5 The Department is, therefore, of the view that new national legislation is necessary to both reinforce existing measures and ensure that those who wilfully or negligently misuse recreational watercraft or PWCs, or endanger the safety of others, wherever they may be can be prosecuted.

1.6 The draft Merchant Shipping (Watercraft) Order (at Annex A), will bring PWCs, as well as recreational and other types of watercraft, within scope of the MSA 1995 essentially restoring the legal position as it was understood to be prior to the court’s judgment.

1.7 A number of consequential amendments to related legislation, for example the Harbours Act 1964 and to facilitate registration of recreational watercraft and PWCs in the UK Ship Register, are also proposed.

1.8 Your comments will be used to assist the Department in understanding any potential impacts of the proposals and to inform final decisions on whether, and in what form, to bring the new legislation into force.

Hire boaters photographed verbally abusing a liveaboard boater

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