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Call for boats, jet skis to slow down on the lakes

Friday, 5 December 2014 10:00 a.m.

Bay of Plenty Harbour Masters are emphasising the need for boaties and jetskiers keep to the rules on the water this summer.

Speeding is the most common reason for Bay of Plenty Regional Council Maritime officers and lake wardens to have to pull people up on the lakes. People failing to keep to the rules are putting themselves and other lake users at risk, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Regional Harbour Master Peter Buell says.

On the Rotorua lakes offences during last summer were the same as the previous year, other than speeding on jetskis, which almost doubled. Fifteen jetskiers were warned and five fined for speeding, compared with eight warnings and three fines the previous year.

There are 32 active Lake Wardens spread around the seven main lakes, who are fully trained in terms of the Regions water safety rules.

Triple the number of jetskiers received fines, mostly for not having an observer when towing, or using a closed area of the lakes, and double the previous year’s number were warned. Jetskiers were given 21 notices for offences such as exceeding five knots, not using an observer or not wearing a lifejacket.

The number of accidents, incidents and near-misses had risen in line with an increase in the number of jetskis on the region’s waterways, particularly on the lakes.

“We wonder how many unreported near-misses there have been between jetskiers and other lake users. People forget that they are as powerful and as fast as a car, and the law currently allows anyone 15 and over to be in charge of one. With so many people out on our waterways, one person behaving badly can put a lot of other people at risk,” Mr Buell said.

The Regional Council’s Maritime team will have little tolerance this summer for vessel users not wearing lifejackets, not having an observer when waterskiing and exceeding five knots near swimmers, divers and small boats.

All vessels, including jetskis, are required to carry enough properly fitting lifejackets for everyone on board, and people should wear them when the skipper requires it, such as crossing a bar, or in extreme weather. In the Waikato, council bylaws require everyone in a boat under six metres to wear a lifejacket while underway.

"We also recommend that kayakers, stand-up paddle boarders, waka ama paddlers and canoeists wear a lifejacket at all times," Mr Buell said.

Jetski rules

  • You must be 15 or older to drive a powered vessel capable of travelling faster than 10 knots.
  • You must not go faster than 5 knots when within 50 metres of another vessel or person in the water and within 200 metres of the shore, a dive flag or any structure.
  • Life jackets of the correct size and fit for each person on board a vessel (including jet skis), must be stowed on board if not being worn.
  • The wake of your vessel must not cause danger or damage to other vessels or water users.
  • When skiing/towing there must also be an observer aged over 10 years on board – it takes three to ski.
  • The person being towed must wear a life jacket.
  • You can be fined $200 for breaching the rules.
Lake Okareka highres