Waterway hoons be warned, a new police jet ski squadron will be out in force this summer to crack down on marine-related crime and ensure safer waterways across NSW.
Fourteen new jet skis, costing around $140,000, which will be used by the new Marine Enforcement Team (MET), were unveiled today at Balmain.
The MET is a dedicated mobile response unit that will be deployed to reduce marine-related crime and patrol NSW waterways including Botany Bay, Georges River and Port Hacking.
The team will be comprised of officers from the Marine Area Command and will be primarily located within the Sydney Metropolitan area, as well as Newcastle and Port Stephens, during the boating season.
The NSW Police Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Mark Hutchings, said the MET team is an additional resource that will allow officers to focus on proactive policing.
“With summer only a few weeks away, and the hot weather already here, these new jet skis will boost the capability of officers to target those that commit dangerous or anti-social activity on our waterways,” said Supt Hutchings.
“The Marine Enforcement Team is a specialist unit within the Marine Area Command and will be conducting regular, planned and high-visibility police operations throughout the warmer months.
“Police will be on the water throughout the season to enforce maritime laws, conduct random breath and drug tests, carry out safety checks on vessels, check boat licences, and ensure any other jet ski riders enjoy the sport safely,” Supt Hutchings said.
Minister for Police Troy Grant said people should be able to head out on NSW waterways and enjoy their day without hoons and trouble makers causing problems.
“With Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year around the corner, the jet ski squad will be launching major enforcement and crowd control operations during the busiest period on our waterways,” said Mr Grant.
“The versatility of the jet ski team will also greatly enhance the Marine Area Command’s ability to rapidly respond and deploy to incidents on the water and contain anti-social and dangerous behaviour.”
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said the additional funding would allow Police to target anti-social behaviour on our waterways.
“The number of jet ski registrations continues to grow at around 10 per cent per year which represents the fastest growing segment of the industry,” Mrs Pavey said.
“While the vast majority of riders use their craft in a responsible manner, personal watercraft continue to be over represented in serious injuries and complaints as a result of dangerous use and anti-social behaviour.”
In October 2016, jet-ski “hoons” deliberately destroyed the nest of a pair of rare and endangered Eastern Ospreys on a channel marker in the Georges River.
The chicks were believed drowned.
The Georges River Wildlife Facebook page said at the time that it was a “deliberate, cruel destruction” of the nest.
Following a joint investigation by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), police and the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) two people were fined.
“RMS has fined one rider $750 for riding unlicensed and failing to stay a safe distance away from a navigational aid, the pole the Osprey nest was on,” an RMS spokesman said at the time.
“The owner of this jet ski also received a penalty of $500 for permitting an unlicensed rider to operate his jet-ski.’’