'Total disregard': Rogue jetski riders spark call for change
FEARS for the safety of water users at Caloundra's Happy Valley and the Maroochy River mouth have prompted a petition calling for greater regulation of personal watercraft on Sunshine Coast waterways.
Greg Poultney, of Landsborough, said he had been on the water for the past 55 years as a professional fisherman and surfer and had never witnessed such dangerous behaviour and flagrant disregard for the law and other people's safety.
He said what was happening was akin to having motocross riders in the local playground.
Mr Poultney has sent a 300-signature Change.org petition to Caloundra MP Mark McArdle, asking it be brought to the attention of the Premier, Police Minister Mark Ryan, the Police Commission, Transport and Roads Minister Mark Bailey and Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson.
He said weekend warriors - many of whom he believed were from out of town - were posing a real safety risk to everyone from children to mature-age SUP riders who flocked to the entrance of Pumicestone Passage to surf.
He said rules that were specific in relation to distance off for motorised watercraft were being ignored.
The situation has become worse with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
"There's been a total disregard for the rules and safety," Mr Poultney said.
"I talk to some of them about the chop they create in the surf that can destroy the waves being enjoyed by 20-30 people. Many don't realise. They should but they don't.
"I need to emphasise that this is not the behaviour of the majority of PWC users and those who are doing the right thing have the most to gain from regulation and being part of that conversation.
"I have met people who have sold their jetskis because of the abuse they have received on the beach - not for their behaviour but that of other PWC riders.
"Last week, there would have been 10 to 15 jetskis navigating their way out of the passage for fishing or to go to other areas to wave jump and freestyle, and one local tow-in rider that moved away from the other surfers down the beach at Bribie."
The petition wants a full review of the problem and introduction of regulated areas.
Should there be better regulation of jetski operators on the Coast?
This poll ended on 26 May 2020.
I'm not sure.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
In the interim, Mr Poultney said, and in the interest of public safety, existing rules needed to be enforced, penalties reviewed, fines issued, vessels impounded and licences cancelled.
He said signs needed to be erected at boat ramps with PWC rules and penalties and a media campaign launched highlighting dangerous behaviour.
Mr McArdle said he had no qualms with any measure to better protect people using the waterways.
"Most do the right thing," he said.
"But this a good idea to ensure that those who do use jetskis do so safely."
What he would not support was any attempt to ban the craft.
RULES OF THE GAME
• Maximum speed: 6 knots within 60m of people in the water and anchored and moored. boats.
• In coastal waters, freestyling or wave jumping is restricted to beyond 200m of the shore if homes are within 100m of the shoreline where you are operating.