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Speeding small boats a problem

While jetski riders are behaving well, a significant number of small boat skippers are still speeding near the shore or close to moorings, according to Environment Waikato.

In a report to this month’s Regulatory Committee meeting, navigation and safety programme manager David Pearks said with a few exceptions, there had been a noticeable improvement in the behaviour of jetski riders over the previous year.

There was a move by jetskis and boats away from mainstream holiday locations to more secluded bays and estuaries around the Coromandel Peninsula, with increasing regulatory problems. This was possibly due to more rigid regulation and enforcement at holiday locations, he said.

The number of camping grounds around the Coromandel had declined significantly, with more holiday accommodation in rental properties. This had resulted in more holiday visitors who could afford larger vessels which could go faster and further, increasing the area where services needed to be provided.

Mr Pearks said there had been an increase in the use of the Waikato River from Meremere to Port Waikato for Auckland schools rowing training and greater pleasure boat activity on weekdays after work. Lakes were also being used more and there was an increase in applications for special events.

West Coast harbours of Raglan, Kawhia and Aotea were popular with holiday uses increasing.

“To maintain a high level of integrity and tolerance with the public, the continued emphasis is on the need to "educated rather than enforce” the requirements of the Navigational Safety Bylaw.”

While this had been relatively successful in the past it was unlikely that behaviour would improve further using this method, and infringement notices would be issued to boat and jetski owners who breached the rules, he said.

A large number of jetskis remained unregistered and harbourmasters were able to issue registrations over the Christmas period with 113 jetskis were registered over Christmas, about half in Tairua and Pauanui. There are now 501 jetskis registered in the Region.

Amongst the issues dealt with over the summer were speeding boats, unregistered jetskis, diving and swimming around wharves and Hamilton city jetties, floating logs, jetskis amongst swimmers, vandalism and structural repairs.

Mr Pearks said registration had reduced the incidence of poor behaviour, but the incidence of poor boat handling had increased because of greater use, more uses in limited space, inability to identify offenders and more boats and swimmers close together.

There was sufficient water space available to accommodate all users if everyone adhered to the bylaw, he said.

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