LOUGH ERNE will see new legislation arrive on the crest of a wave on Friday to curb reckless behaviour by jet-ski riders.
The new laws are designed to make the loughs of Fermanagh and the rest of the North – along with the sea – safer for other watercraft users as well as swimmers with wrong-doers facing punishments ranging from a hefty fine to two years in prison.
With the Covid lockdowns over the last three years seeing a rise in people taking to the water for recreational purposes, the actions of the few have caused concern with the new rules giving the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) more powers to prosecute those responsible for accidents on the water.
However, there are doubts that this new legislation will make an impact on Lough Erne.
Caolan Faux from Enniskillen-based water activity centre, Blue Green Yonder, said: “The reality is that this legislation is enforceable by MCA.
“As we don’t have an MCA presence on Lough Erne it remains to be seen how this legislation will impact on water users here.
“The core of this issue would be that the reality of using the water safely does equate to those on the water having a duty of care for others.
“Any behaviour which recklessly endangers the safety of any water user, be that another craft, a swimmer or anyone else using the Lough is always going to be unacceptable.
“We all share the Lough and we should aim to use it in a way that is respectful to all.
“In my experience those using Lough Erne are predominantly of this mindset and Lough Erne remains a wonderful place to spend time, relax and enjoy.”
The MCA, however, state that the new rules will be applicable to all watercraft users in the North and will be enforced as and where accidents take place.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman said: “This legislation is a warning to anyone who uses watercraft such as jet skis in UK waters to make sure they use them safely.
“They will be held accountable by the same laws that apply to ships and fishing vessels in order to help prevent accidents.
“Users, operators and owners of jet skis and other watercraft should make sure they are fully aware of their responsibilities under the legislation, before operating them.
“The MCA has powers to prosecute those responsible for serious breaches of the legislation and perpetrators could find themselves facing a fine and/or up to two years in prison.”
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