Police and Maritime crackdown on Jet Ski hoons in Sydney waterways

NSW Police Marine Area Command and NSW Maritime embarked on a joint taskforce last weekend in Jet Ski hoon trouble spots, with more than 1000 vessels stopped, and about 70 fines issued for speeding and other offences.

More than a dozen NSW Police and NSW Maritime vessels saturated Sydney’s trouble spots for Jet Ski hoons last weekend in a two-day crackdown on speeding, dangerous riding, and anti-social behaviour.

The joint operation saw NSW Maritime officers and NSW Marine Area Command police – in high-powered boats and Jet Skis – intercept more than 1300 vessels for safety checks.

About 70 tickets were issued across the weekend for speeding in low-speed zones, riding dangerously near swimmers, operating unregistered vessels, riding while unlicensed, as well as other safety violations.

However, officers issued more official warnings than they issued tickets, with about 150 riders having their details recorded in case of repeat future offences.

In a media statement, NSW Maritime Executive Director Mark Hutchings said while most Jet Ski riders do the right thing, there is “a dangerous minority who have been clashing with residents, boaters and swimmers at popular waterways.”

“Hooning, aggression and intimidation will absolutely not be tolerated. If you want to keep your licence, follow the rules and respect other peoples’ right to a safe day on the water,” Mr Hutchings said.

“Waterways are for everyone to enjoy, not a playground for hoons on high-powered vessels. Those who act dangerously or flout the rules face hefty fines, loss of licence and in some cases even having (their Jet Ski) impounded.”

Authorities on Jet Skis and in boats increased patrols in the Georges River, Botany Bay, Port Hacking, Pittwater, Brisbane Waters, the Hawkesbury and Lake Illawarra.

The operation included NSW Police Highway Patrol, the Public Order Riot Squad, and Strike Force Raptor “at strategic locations … to target any illegal or anti-social behaviour linked to vessel owners and operators,” authorities said.

NSW Police Marine Area Command Superintendent, Joe McNulty, said in a media statement: “We are warning those with personal watercraft (Jet Skis) that not only are they putting themselves at risk, but other water users.

“We have some of the most picturesque waterways in the country, which also means they see a significant increase in recreational activity during warmer months, this unfortunately means potentially more …  injuries or fatalities.”

Last weekend’s crackdown follows a recent spike in the number of serious injuries to Jet Ski riders since the start of 2023, authorities said.

Transport for NSW revealed at least eight Jet Ski riders were taken to hospital for treatment over the past 12 months – and there was an alleged assault on a NSW Maritime officer which is currently before the courts.

Mr Hutchings said over the past 12 months NSW Maritime responded to more than 270 complaints about Jet Skis “ranging from noise complaints to speeding, irregular riding, riding close to swimmers, damage to shoreline and even harassment of wildlife including whales and dolphins.”

“It’s reckless and disrespectful and inevitably it’s going to result in more people being seriously hurt, or worse,” Mr Hutchings said.

NSW Maritime said there were close to 10,000 checks on Jet Ski riders statewide over the past 12 months, and more than 1500 penalty notices and official cautions were issued.

Authorities said Greater Sydney is home to the Top Three worst locations for Jet Ski offences including the George’s River with 343 counts, Botany Bay with 159 counts, and Port Hacking with 149 counts.

The Top Three offences among Jet Ski riders across NSW last year were speeding (30 per cent), licencing or registration breaches (26 per cent) and irregular riding (10 per cent).

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A news article about the weekend crackdown on Jet Skis in The Daily Telegraph, 19 February 2024.