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• minimising nuisence
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• jetski issues
• cabbage tree basin
• dunecare report

Minimising PWC (Jestski) Nuisence

For many of us, bushwalkers, kayakers, users of sail boats, fisherpersons and families, central to the enjoyment we have beside the water is to escape the noise and smell of industrial activities, and to get close to nature. Swimming in a peaceful river or a quiet bay, or picnicking beside the water where the main noise is of the birds and the lapping of the water, are pleasures we want to continue to be able to enjoy. Many thousands of Port Hacking users seek this release from city life.

Jestkis, unfortunately, have the capacity to deprive us of the opportunity to escape from machine noises, smells and hazards. As their number increases, and they seek out new areas, they import noise, oil in the water, and risks of being hit, into once more peaceful places.

Swimmers know the risks, and are often forced to leave the water in anticipation of an individual jetski user being either incompetent or irresponsible. The consequences of relying on your rights to use the water are such that few are prepared to chance it. This is even more the case when young children or non-confident swimmers are concerned.

It only takes one jetski to destroy the peace and harmony of a picnic or camping area being shared by many. A group of jetskis makes the noise and other effects intolerable. A continuous stream of them over a day (or a weekend) makes escape from the effects impossible. For residents near a heavily used area, the continuous noise can make holiday periods a nightmare.

Yet it is not necessary that jetskis cause these problems. The most responsible users recognise this and act with care for other users and the natural environment. Jetskiers can still obtain the "kicks" of high speed and jumping waves, in open expanses of water. It is not necessary for them to use areas where the pleasure of others is dependent on escape from industrial noise, smell and hazards.

Ineffective Noise Control

It is an offence for a vessel to emit offensive noise (Noise from Vessels Reg. 5.) The law clearly encompasses the noise problems we have highlighted.

However what has happened is that Waterways officers have treated an administrative arrangement for an 85 decibel threshold test as replacing the noise regulation. As a result Waterways do not take into account the things that the regulation indicates, such as:
  • The use being made of the machine. The noise being made wave jumping is considerably more than when the machine is being used on flat water;

  • The context. The same noise level in an industrialised bay, or in a peaceful estuary or river, has markedly different effects on the listener.

  • Groups. The cumulative effects of a number of jetskis each emitting up to 85 decibels is far greater than the effects of a single vessel.

  • Persistence. When noise persists, the offensiveness can become intolerable. In some areas, a summer weekend becomes a nightmare of incessant jetski sound.

Waterways do not have a publicised complaints line. There is no 'out of hours' complaints mechanism to which one is directed from the Waterways phone system. Noise complaints are discouraged, with the misleading statement that the only offence is an individual jetski exceeding 85 decibels.. There is generally insufficient policing capability to deal effectively with those complaints that are lodged. These features combined has led to a situation where few people have confidence in Waterways to lodge complaints. However, jetski complaints to other authorities such as the Water Police or local government authorities have risen substantially, reflecting the increasing problems associated with jetski numbers and insufficient management.

What is the PHPS Position?

Unlike many of the users who are prejudiced by their activities, and many of the environments which are threatened by the side effects of these activities, jetskis are highly mobile. An effective management approach would be to set aside areas where they can cause little nuisance, much as is done to accommodate other machine intensive racing activities like trail bike riding or car racing. This would allow effective monitoring and management without the need for significant policing resources.

Minimally, jetskis should be restricted from use in waterways adjacent to houses or natural recreation areas like National Parks or Reserves, and the existing rules actively enforced, even if this requires substantially more policing resource.

Coupled with this, it is essential that the Waterways Authority itself become committed to protection of the environment and the protection of the rights of those adversely impacted by boating use. That step will require a change in culture as well as a change in regulations.

How Can I Find Out More?

Jetski issues - a Summary of Studies - Aug 2001 (.pdf 199k)

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