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Jet skis and motorised boats asked to S.L.O.W. down

03 June 2021

Large inter-agency group works together on measures to improve water safety.

Over many years there has been a growing number of incidents around water safety relating to jet skis and small motorised boats at both Studland Bay and Swanage Bay.  Last year, the problem was exacerbated as there was an increase in “staycation” visitor numbers, with more people bringing or hiring jet skis and boats.

Like many parts of the Dorset coast, there has also been a growing number of people who are taking part in open water swimming throughout the year. Simply put, there are now more people using the sea, which can lead to safety concerns.

The issue around jet skis and motorboats is ongoing and resolving it sits across a range of different organisations/partners including Dorset Council, National Trust, HM Coastguard, Dorset Marine Policing Team, Swanage Town Council, Dorset Coast Forum, Studland Parish Council, RNLI, Personal Watercraft Partnership, Poole Harbour Commissioners, as well as representatives from both the wider jet ski and sea swimming communities.

In August 2020 this group, coordinated by Dorset Council, started to work collaboratively to deliver a programme of measures that they hope will reduce the number of incidents in these areas and make the water safer for all. They include:

  • Dorset Council investing in more 5 knot Speed marker Buoys to clearly mark areas where jet ski and motorised boats need to reduce their speed in line with the current Pleasure boat byelaw. There are also regular patrols from April to September, provided by two local water sport companies to actively engage with people on water safety.
  • Personal Watercraft Patnership have funded two marine police on Jet Ski safety which will help with education, enforcement and with the running some police operation days over the summer months.
  • Swanage Town Council have closed the Parish Slipway at Swanage to motorised vehicles therefore stopping any launching of jet skis in this very crowded area.
  • New signage, along with a leaflet and website has been developed and will be used to promote key information on water safety.
  • Dorset Marine Policing Team running Operation Seagoing #opseagoing over the summer months.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, commented:

“With more people set to visit our beautiful county this summer, we needed to take action to ensure those who wish to use our waters are kept safe. I want to thank all our partners for their hard work in helping keep incidents to a minimum so everyone can have a good time responsibly.”

Ian Brown, from the Coastguard said:

“It’s vital we work together with partners to reduce the risks of incidents between water users in Swanage and Studland”

Dave Brown from the Dorset Marine Police went on to say:

“We hope our SLOW - See, Look, Observe, Watch - campaign message is really clear to everyone. We don’t want to spoil people’s enjoyment, but we do need to have fun safely”

If you ride a jet ski or drive a motorised boat, then please follow a few simple things:

  • See who else is in the water. The water is a shared space, but swimmers are hard to spot.
  • Look out for wildlife. Don’t harass or cause disturbance. We have some fabulous wildlife in the sea that can be harmed by noise, speed, and aggressive behaviour.  
  • Observe the sea conditions. They constantly change and can be unpredictable. The tide comes in and goes out 2 times a day at different times with the water moving in towards the beach or moving out away from the beach. Make sure you know what direction the water is moving in throughout the day. Check tide times, weather forecast and sea conditions before you leave home.
  • Watch your speed. From the shore to the yellow speed marker buoys the speed limit is 5 Knots (assume 5MPH) – they are there for a reason. Where possible, for your safety and others we would be suggest you remain on the seaward of the buoys. 

For more information, please contact please contact Bridget Betts (Environmental Advice Manager at Dorset Council) at bridget.betts@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk, or call 01305 224826.

SLOW campaign water ski