A collision between a power boat and a jet ski in the Waikato region last Friday has highlighted the need for people to take care on the waterways this summer, says the Western Bay of Plenty harbour master, Jennifer Roberts.
The incident occurred at approximately 8pm on Friday 14 December and left the jet skier with serious injuries. The incident is now being investigated by the Waikato Regional Council.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has launched a jet ski safety campaign for the 2012/13 summer season, in an effort to remind people how to have fun safely on the region's waterways.
"The Waikato incident was very serious and we would not like to see anything similar happening in the Bay of Plenty," says Jennifer.
"We are so lucky to be surrounded by amazing waterways. The Bay of Plenty is a great place to play during the summer months, but it gets very busy on the water. We're asking all water users to be aware of the rules - and of other people."
As the number of jet skis has increased in recent years, so have the number of accidents, incidents and near misses, says Jennifer.
They're as powerful and as fast as a car but under current laws, anyone aged 15 years and over can be in charge of a jet ski, with no licence required.
"They can be a lot of fun and most people are well behaved and use them safely but every year the number of incidents involving jet skis increases."
Most jet ski incidents in the Bay of Plenty involve males aged 17 to 30.
The region's harbourmasters and maritime volunteers will be out in force over summer reminding jet skiers of the rules and how to enjoy their fun safely. Like boaties, jet ski users can be fined $200 for breaching maritime rules.
"Rather than hand out tickets right away, we mostly talk to boaties, jet ski users and other people out on the water and find that often, if they have done something wrong, it's because they don't know the rules," Jennifer says.
"We want to ensure they do know the rules and hope they will then pass on those messages to others.
"Please, look after yourself and look after your mates so that your jet-ski summer is one to remember, and not one to regret."
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council's maritime team is responsible for a large area from Waihi Beach in the north, to Lottin Point near the East Cape and 12 nautical miles out to sea. They also oversee the Rotorua lakes, the region's rivers and the harbours and estuaries at Tauranga, Maketu, Thornton, Pukehina, Whakatane, Ohiwa and Opotiki.
The use of the region's lakes, harbours, waterways and off-shore areas are subject to the council's Navigation Safety Bylaw.
• You must be 15 or older to drive a powered vessel that is capable of travelling faster than 10 knots, including jet skis
• You must not go faster than five knots:
o Within 50 metres of another vessel or person in the water
o Within 200 metres of the shore, a dive flag, or any structure
• The operator of any vessel, including a jet ski, must ensure there is a lifejacket of the correct size and fit for each person on board
• You must ensure that your vessel's wake does not cause danger or damage to boats or other water users.
• If you are skiing/towing there must also be an observer who is older than 10 years in the vessel or on the jet ski.
• The person being towed must wear a lifejacket
• You can be fined $200 for breaching the bylaw
Free copies of the Bay of Plenty Regional Navigation Safety Bylaw 2010 are available from Bay of Plenty Regional Council offices or by contacting the council on 0800 884 880 or at firstname.lastname@example.org