NEW legislation to tackle reckless watercraft users has been welcomed by Poole Harbour chiefs.

The new law, which comes into force on March 31, has been introduced to crack down on the dangerous misuse of watercraft such as jet skis, with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency being granted more powers to prosecute perpetrators of incidents.

The Merchant Shipping (Watercraft) Order 2023 will enable watercraft users to be prosecuted and bound by the same laws that apply to ships. This includes jet skis, fliteboards, e-foils and anything else motorised on the water which can carry one or more persons.

Poole Harbour Commissioners says it welcomes the new legislation.

Poole Harbour Master, Captain Brian Murphy, said: “Harbour Masters in the UK have been lobbying government for almost 15 years for legislation that clearly defines a watercraft and imposes requirements for safe use, with significant fines and even imprisonment, as the penalty for failure to so.

“The majority of watercraft owners, users and operators in Poole Harbour enjoy the water space, without incident, acting in a safe and responsible manner. However, with the ever-increasing numbers of users combined with new technologies, this has resulted in more prosecutions under local legislation.”

Poole Harbour Commissioners have prosecuted more than 60 people in the last ten years with a 100 per cent success rate for byelaw infringements on the water.