Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Responsibility essential on the water, says authority

NSW Roads and Martime address the issue of jet skis or personal watercraft use on the Murray River after two serious, separate incidents on the river on Sunday.

TRENT HORNEMAN January 4, 2013 4:10pm

Congestion on the Murray River at Echuca east boat ramp this week.

A NSW Roads and Maritime region manager said personal watercraft owners needed to take more responsibility.

Acting Murray Inland regional manager Bill Neyland said personal watercraft were just as dangerous to operate as traditional speedboats and it was up to operators to use commonsense.

He said personal watercraft operators needed to have a specific licence to operate their craft.

‘‘We are starting to see more of them on the river because they are more affordable than a speed boat, they are easier to store, can carry up to three people,’’ he said.

Mr Neyland said NSW Roads and Maritime had a $250 fine in place for ‘‘inappropriate behaviour’’ while operating a watercraft.

He said personal watercraft operators were not over represented with fines and had to follow the same rules and regulations as everyone else when on the river.

‘‘Operators are not allowed to drive in a circle or other pattern, weave or divert, surf down or jump across any swell, wave or wash,’’ he said.

‘‘While there is law which states watercraft must keep a safe distance of 60m when passing, it is impossible to comply in the Murray River, so there is a part of the law which says ‘at a safe distance’.

‘‘So it is up to the operator to be responsible and do the right thing.’’

Mr Neyland said recent personal watercraft accidents in the Murray River could have been avoided had operators taken greater responsibility.

He said river users who observe dangerous behaviour on the river could visit the NSW Roads and Maritime website or call NSW Police.

Mr Neyland said while Echuca-Moama had a dedicated officer policing the Murray River, Maritime patrols could be increased.

‘‘Like everything, we do the best with what we have to work with. The Murray Inland area covers not only the Murray River from the high country to the South Australian border, it also follows the border to Queensland — about 33 per cent of the state,’’ he said.

‘‘We do have three officers working in the area, because it has such a high volume of traffic.’’

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