Thursday, 13 July 2017

Marine Activity: Laws but no Policing

AN investigation is continuing after a jet skier suffered a serious leg injury following a collision with a speedboat in St Brelade’s Bay on Sunday afternoon.

I was down there on Friday.

St Brelade’s Bay on Friday evening, around 5 pm, was full of people paddling, swimmers, boats meandering along, and all kinds of water craft. The photo above shows what I believe was some kind of Jet Ski, and as you can see from the photo, it was going extremely fast. I know it was going fast because I missed it with my camera on some shots because it was hard to track it at that speed.

At the speed I saw this going, it only needs two craft travelling at speed, and perhaps making a turn to go back across the bay for a nasty accident to happen, as indeed happened on Sunday. We don't know at the moment whether the speed boat crossed the path of the jet ski or vice versa, but if what I observed on Friday is any indication, it is no surprise that occurred.

It has also been noted by Jono Stevenson that there is lack of marked areas in the bay - an area to which motor craft should be confined, like they do at La Haule. There are red flags placed at either side of the safe bathing zone, but that alone does not denote that pleasure craft cannot enter. It is recipe for an accident.

I asked my friend Adam Gardiner what legislation is in place to help make the area safe? He provided this note.

Safety Regulations in St Brelade's Bay
By Adam Gardiner

There are speed limits and in fact a whole set of laws that specifically govern beaches and inshore maritime activity in general. They are policed, or supposed to be, by several agencies too.

As far as beaches go there are three. EDD, Honorary/States Police and the Harbour Office.
The relevant regulation for beaches:

Up to a few years ago, the beaches were routinely ‘patrolled’ on summer weekends by enforcement officers attached to Jersey Tourism which was then a part of EDD - a pro-active approach. Apart from policing the beaches they also reported dangerous waterborne activity to the Harbour Office who would deploy a ‘marine officer’ or the coastguard service, who (if you can recall) were often seen around towing an inflatable.

Marine activity is governed by more than one law with local regulations attached to various bays. In St. Brelade Bay there is a 5 knot restrictions to boats, jet skis and other motorised craft with 200m of the shoreline - the shoreline being the point at which the sea and open beach meet which can obviously change with the tide.

For all practical purposes that 200m has been defined under local regulations as a line across the bay from La Cotte Point and Grosse Tête – a large sea stack in Beauport Bay - the low water mean in the bay.

But as you witnessed that is not generally observed….but not policed either. The relevant laws come under Boats and Surf-riding (Control) (Jersey) Regulations 1969 Read more at 

Further information can also be found at

Jersey Ports have issued a resume of safety advice and legal obigations taken from those laws and regulations:

However, with cutbacks and successive reviews of manpower, policing has become entirely reactive - hence predictable that incidents will and do occur. The mentality of beach users and increasingly those engaged in water sports and activities is utterly amazing - and all too often aggressive and confrontational when police or other authorities arrive through complaints - ‘spoiling our fun’. They are both oblivious to and in denial of acting dangerously.

Worryingly, the Lifeguards seem reluctant to report poor and dangerous behaviour and certainly not to the Honorary or Centenier as here is no route of liaison. The lifeguards themselves have no policing powers whatsoever. If and when they do call in another authority that will generally be the Harbour Office who govern their activities. The Harbour Office are similarly reluctant to prosecute - probably because they do not have the resources. It’s therefore a situation that invites bad behaviour.

As always, it will take an incident to get the authorities to sit up and take notice that in the summer our beaches need to be policed and regulations enforced if necessary - but will probably become a sad fact that won’t actually happen once this story drops from the news and premier beaches such as St. Brelade’s Bay will remain a dangerous playground.

No comments: