A number of Jet Skis and motorboats will have been out in the waters of Dorset over the bank holiday weekend and will be also doing so this coming half term week, but owners are being asked to be mindful of the speed limit of five knots.
Over recent years there have been a growing number of water safety incidents at both Studland Bay and Swanage Bay. Last year, the problem was exacerbated as there was an increase in ‘staycation’ visitor numbers, with more people bringing or hiring Jet Skis and boats.
Like many parts of the Dorset coast, there have also been a growing number of people who are taking part in open water swimming throughout the year. Simply put, there are now more people using the sea, which can lead to safety concerns.
The issue around jet skis and motorboats is ongoing and resolving it sits across a range of different organisations/partners including Dorset Council, National Trust, HM Coastguard, Dorset Marine Policing Team, Swanage Town Council, Dorset Coast Forum, Studland Parish Council, RNLI, Personal Watercraft Partnership, Poole Harbour Commissioners, as well as representatives from both the wider jet ski and sea swimming communities.
In August last year this group, coordinated by Dorset Council, started to work collaboratively to deliver a programme of measures that they hope will reduce the number of incidents in these areas and make the water safer for all. They include:
- Dorset Council investing in more five knot Speed marker buoys to clearly mark areas where Jet Ski and motorised boats need to reduce their speed in line with the current pleasure boat byelaw. There are also regular patrols from April to September, provided by two local water sport companies to actively engage with people on water safety.
- Personal Watercraft Partnership have funded two marine police on Jet Ski safety.
- Swanage Town Council have closed the parish slipway at Swanage to motorised vehicles therefore stopping any launching of jet skis in this very crowded area.
- New signage, along with a leaflet and website has been developed, and will be used to promote key information on water safety.
- Dorset Marine Policing Team running Operation Seagoing #opseagoing over the summer months.
Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “With more people set to visit our beautiful county this summer, we needed to take action to ensure those who wish to use our waters are kept safe.”
Ian Brown, from the Coastguard said: “It’s vital we work together with partners to reduce the risks of incidents between water users in Swanage and Studland”
Dave Brown from the Dorset Marine Police said: “We hope our SLOW – See, Look, Observe, Watch – campaign message is really clear to everyone. We don’t want to spoil people’s enjoyment, but we do need to have fun safely.”
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