ECHO Readers are overwhelming in favour of harsher punishments for dangerous jet ski riders.

A national consultation has been launched by Department for Transport proposing ‘recreational and personal watercraft’ should abide by the same laws as ships, as set out in Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

And Echo readers have shown their support for proposed harsher punishments – which could see two-year prison sentences dished out – for those who put others in harm’s way.

A poll ran by the Echo saw 97 per cent of 35 respondents say they were in favour of clamping down on rogue riders while 3 per cent said they weren’t sure.

Read more:

Independent Canvey councillor Barry Campagna, who is also head of Canvey Bay Watch, says a minority of poorly behaved riders are giving the rest a bad name.

Welcoming the consultation, cllr Campagna also raised concerns that until jet skis are legally required to have clearly visible registration numbers – similar to road vehicles – any new laws would be hard to enforce.

He said: “We have had problems in Thorney Bay over the years with jet skiers coming down to land on the beach while there are young swimmers about.

“I’m in favour of enforcing the laws but there needs to be clear registration numbers on the jet skis so we can catch them, like when you go through a speed camera.”

Southend Council has welcomed the consultation and one councillor says it could help combat the ‘dangerous behaviour’ of jet ski riders in the area.

Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and with responsibility for pier and foreshore, said: “We have experienced very serious and dangerous behavior this year putting bathers, swimmers, paddleboarders and working fisherman at risk, and we need these less complicated powers to stop this

“It could mean irresponsible users of such craft being sent to prison for up to two years which would act as a strong deterrent and hopefully encourage anyone thinking of acting inconsiderately on our waters to think twice.”

The proposed change would mean that personal watercraft and other recreational watercraft users will be subject to the same safety obligations that exist for the operators of ships.

At present, councils and harbour authorities can set bylaws that require registration of jet skis, payment of fees and adherence to speed limits, with users facing £1,000 fines for misusing the vehicles.