Reckless jet skiers to face prison and unlimited fines after law change
The UK is introducing new legislation to crack down on the dangerous misuse of watercraft such as jet skis, with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) being granted more powers to prosecute perpetrators of accidents.
The new law will come into force on March 31 2023, before the busy summer period, and will enable watercraft users to be prosecuted and bound by the same laws that apply to ships to help to prevent accidents.
This follows a boom in the watercraft industry during the pandemic, with the number, size, power and availability of watercraft like jet skis increasing, and their use in UK waters rising.
The government says today’s move (18 January 2023) will help ensure the UK continues to have some of the safest waters in the world.
“The watercraft industry is thriving and it’s great to see more and more people enjoying leisure activities. However, they must do so safely,” says maritime minister, Baroness Vere.
“That’s why we’re introducing a new law to crack down on any dangerous misuse of watercraft like jet skis. It will give the Maritime and Coastguard Agency greater power to prosecute those responsible for causing accidents or entirely avoidable tragedies.
“We’ll continue working to ensure our country’s coasts and waters are safe for everyone.”
Watercraft are not currently covered by wider maritime safety legislation. The new law will mean those found guilty of using their watercraft in a dangerous manner could receive an unlimited fine and/or up to two years in prison.
For those who cause accidents involving loss of life, the new offences could be used to better prosecute perpetrators alongside wider manslaughter charges.
Personal and recreational watercraft will also be bound by the “highway code of the sea” — international regulations which require users to act safely by maintaining a lookout, driving at safe speeds and outlining their responsibilities to other vessels.
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