Poole spearfisherman has close shave with reckless jet skier

By Greg Luckhurst

Facebook Community Reporter

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A SPEARFISHERMAN from West Sussex wants to raise awareness of buoy markings and flags on the water after a near miss with a reckless jet skier near Swanage.

Adam Rocliffe was freediving and spearfishing in Durlston Bay at 11am on the morning Sunday July 19 with a surface marker buoy (SMB) with a ‘diver-down’ flag marking his presence on a 10-metre tether to himself.

As he neared the surface to come up for breath, Adam saw a jet ski travelling over 15 knots zoom past him within a couple of metres.

Adam said: “As I was on the bottom nearing the end of my breath hold, I heard some watercraft approaching so began to surface.

“As I reached the surface, I looked up to see a jet ski drive past at 15+ knots within a couple of metres of me.

“I tried to call out to them to get their attention however they did not hear me. There was a group of nine jet skis in total.”

Having dived with a GoPro strapped to his forehead, Adam caught the near miss all on video. He has since reported the incident to Solent Coastguard, RNLI Swanage & NCI Swanage.

The 30-year-old wants to help highlight the need for watercraft users to become educate themselves on the different buoy and flag markers used by spearfisherman, divers and other water users.

Adam added: “At first I was a little shocked and angry, but once I had calmed down and reviewed the footage, I came to understand it was not a deliberate action.

“It is quite evident they did not know I was there despite the surface marker buoy and flag being no more than 10 metres from me.

“This leads me to believe more awareness is required as to what buoys and flags mean whilst on the water, safe distances and how to approach them if necessary.”

The British Spearfishing Association recommends watercraft users slow down to four knots when coming close to shore, and if a SMB is present then a safe distance for them to pass would be outside of a 100m circumference around the SMB.

Chairman of the British Spearfishing Association Matt Newman said: “Whilst Adam is a very safe and sensible spearfisherman, doing everything he could to alert others to his whereabouts, the video clearly shows the jet skis are oblivious to what the flags and SMB indicate.

“Unfortunately, this is not a one-off occurrence, and is becoming more of a frequent ordeal with both swimmers and spear fishers complaining about jet skis coming too close or travelling too fast in areas close to the shore.

“The frightening fact is that there is no legal requirement for certification or a license to own, rent or operate a jet ski within the UK.

“Whilst we understand that incidents like Adam's are not intentional acts to harm someone, more needs to be done to educate watercraft users to ensure a potentially fatal accident does not occur, due to the lack of knowledge and understanding.”