86.8 F
Cruz Bay
Saturday, December 9, 2023


Department of Planning and Natural Resources officials told more than two dozen people Friday evening , they are ready to crack down on jet skiers who don't follow the rules.
The group was gathered in the DPRN conference room to participate in an educational seminar on the operation of personal watercraft (PWC), commonly known as jet skis. Attending the seminar were rental operators, jet ski owners, and many concerned citizens, among them a contingent identified as the Water Bay Jet Ski Action Group.
"Jet skis are becoming problematic in this area," said Lucia Roberts-Francis, DPNR director of environmental enforcement,. "We want to bring you to a certain level of awareness so that safety is first and foremost before we start losing lives," she said.
By design, PWC’s are inherently more dangerous that other motor boats because the operator is on the outside instead of inside. Not only are operators at risk, but when used recklessly, jet skis can cause harm to swimmers and to sea life, such as turtles, according to DPNR Officer Alvin Powell Jr., who conducted the seminar.
After viewing an educational video on the proper use of jet skis, attendees watched footage taken by private citizens over a period of weeks showing jet skiers speeding in and out of Water Bay, adjacent to the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort. Dr. Malcolm MacDonald, whose home and chiropractic practice sits at the mouth of Water Bay, complained that because of the high speeds and modified mufflers, the noise is excessive. "Sometimes I can’t even hear my patients."
Enforcement officers explained that jet skiers must operate in “as straight line as practicable" and reduce speeds to idle speed when operating within 10 feet of a moored vessel and while entering and exiting restricted areas, such as bays. Altering the motor of a jet ski, which causes it to operate at an increased noise level, is prohibited. According to Virgin Islands law, jet skis may not be operated in waters "less than 500 feet from the shoreline… or an area less than 500 feet from any designated non motorized recreational watersports activity area such as swimming, snorkeling, diving…"
Enforcement officers also warned that failure to follow the rules and regulations would result in penalties. "We are taking a hard nosed approach," said Deputy Chief Robert Danet. Penalties may involve confiscation of the vessel, plus boat storage fees for as long as it takes for the case to go to trial.
For more information on the rules and regulation, contact the Division of Environmental Enforcement at 774-3320 ext. 5112.

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