RYA supports new regulation proposals for power driven vessels

The RYA has publicly responded to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) consultation which asks whether recreational watercraft users should be subject to the same safety obligations that exist for the operators of ships. The RYA says that while it supports some of the DfT’s proposals, ‘the possible unintended consequences . . . could lead to unnecessary regulation across the leisure and recreational boating sector’.

It is also the RYA’s belief that, at present, the proposed definition of a ‘watercraft’ is too broad, and the association is calling for the proposals to be limited to power driven vessels only.

‘While many of the drivers of these craft are responsible, respect others on the water and undertake RYA training, a small minority do not,’ says the RYA.

However, the RYA supports the aspiration to rectify the uncertainty that might place recreational and personal watercraft outside the scope of section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA) 1995 making it impossible to take action against reckless or dangerous activity on the water by people in certain circumstances.

The RYA says it is aware that there is continuing uncertainty on the registration of recreational craft and PWC on the UK Ship Register. While the RYA does not support compulsory registration of such craft for use in the UK, the RYA does support the option for all boat owners to be able to voluntarily register their craft. ‘This is particularly useful when voyaging overseas where proof of ownership and country of registration is often required,’ says the yachting association.

“Overall, RYA supports the aspirations in the proposed order to bring recreational and personal watercraft within the scope of section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, as we did in 2009,” says Mel Hide, RYA director of external affairs. “In our view this proposal is an improvement on the last, as rather than trying to redefine ‘ship’ for the purposes of certain merchant shipping enactments it seeks to extend specified powers to cover recreational and personal watercraft.

“However, the proposed definition of ‘watercraft’ means a wide range of powered and unpowered craft would fall within it, so RYA recommends limiting its application to power driven vessels only. This would still achieve the main purpose of the legislation in making it possible to take enforcement action against reckless or dangerous activity on the water. There are other points in the proposed order that RYA believes are not appropriate for all watercraft and we have made this clear in our detailed response.”

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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