TWO men have been hit with more than £2,500 in financial penalties by the courts for offences relating to the use of jet skis in Poole Harbour.

Simon Grant, of Curzon Street, Reading, and Gary Williams, of Kingfisher Drive, Banbury, were prosecuted by Poole Harbour Commissions (PHC) for incidents that took place in June and July, respectively.

Grant was charged with using a personal watercraft without the written permission of the harbour master and causing the vessel to be driven at a speed exceeding the 10-knot limit on June 24.

He was convicted in absence at Poole Magistrates' Court on September 9. He was fined £760 and ordered to pay £1,020 costs and a £76 surcharge.

Williams, who was also not present in court on the same day but pleaded guilty to a charge of speeding in the harbour on July 19, was fined £205 and ordered to pay £600 costs and a £34 surcharge.

PHC said these latest prosecutions come after seeing a rise in the number of complaints regarding the inappropriate since the end of the coronavirus lockdown.

Captain Brian Murphy, harbour master for PHC said “Since the easement of Covid-19 restrictions we have seen an increase in reported bylaw infringements within Poole Harbour which has led to increased patrols, including working jointly with the Marine Policing Team and other authorities. "This has resulted in a number of court summons being issued with prosecutions pending. Fortunately these are very much relating to a minority of harbour users.

“Harbour bylaws, which include speed limits, are in place on our waterways to protect life, property and the environment. Poole Harbour Commissioners have and will continue to work closely with harbour users to maintain navigational safety within Poole harbour for the safety and enjoyment of all."

In light of the complaints, PHC recently reissued a Local Notice to Mariners which details several designated areas within Poole Harbour which allow the segregation of certain waterborne activities, including personal watercraft.

Mr Murphy added: “Since its introduction in 1995, the Harbour Zoning Scheme has proved very successful in managing the multifarious recreational activities within Poole Harbour.

"These zones enable water sport enthusiasts to enjoy their sport in an area that causes minimal disturbance to wildlife and other harbour users, therefore reducing risk and improving safety.

"Most users restrict their activities to the relevant zones and abide by the relevant codes of conduct. But unfortunately, we still see occasions where a minority are in breach of the bylaws and their reckless and unlawful behaviour ends in prosecution.”