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Reckless jet skiers face prison time under new law

Reckless jet skiers in Kent now face up to two years in prison and unlimited fines under new national legislation.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will be given more powers from March 31 to prosecute people misusing the recreational vessels.

Herne Bay was previously described as being like the 'wild west'. Picture: Tony Flashman
Herne Bay was previously described as being like the 'wild west'. Picture: Tony Flashman

Watercraft such as jet skis are not currently covered by wider maritime safety legislation but there has been a rise is the number of people using them since the start of the pandemic.

In fact, a Canterbury City councillor previously told KentOnline that jet ski usage was making Herne Bay like "the wild west" - with fears that someone would be seriously hurt from this.

As such, the authority introduced a jet ski registration scheme, where riders now have to sign up to use the machines.

Speaking since the new laws came in, Seasalter councillor Ashley Clark said they will support local legislation.

He said: "At the end of the day this regime is needed nationally.

Cllr Ashley Clark
Cllr Ashley Clark

"At local level we will now have a comprehensive system with our own jet ski legislation scheme that has been working very well."

Of the new laws, maritime minister Baroness Vere said: “The watercraft industry is thriving and it’s great to see more and more people enjoying leisure activities.

"However, they must do so safely.

“That’s why we’re introducing a new law to crack down on any dangerous misuse of watercraft like jet skis."

Concerns around reckless jet skiers has been shared across Kent, with councillors in Folkestone also wanting tougher restrictions to be put in place.

In 2021, Cllr Georgina Treloar, from Folkestone and Hythe District Council, said: "It is not just the disturbances they create, such as noise, but the impact on people and wildlife.

"We have a seal population here.

"The entertainment of one person with a high speed vessel can result in the interruption of a lot more people."

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