Fishers at loggerheads with jet skiers

Kaikoura Star | Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Jet skis are racking up a bad reputation in Kaikoura this summer, and the harbourmaster warns that if they "don't pull their heads in" there will be a serious accident.

"This is the worst year ever. We've never had so many jet skis since Methusala's time.
"And they don't give two hoots where they go or who's around them," said harbourmaster Tubby Roberts.
Reports of speeding boats off Jimmy Armers Beach have lead to discussion around town among those who share the water regarding regulations and water safety.
MoreFM last week reported that two commercial boats had been breaking the five knot rule, endangering divers and even ripping a fishing line out of a boy's hands.
The police have receive complaints of some near misses between boats, involving pleasure craft and commercial operators and say a call for care has gone out.
Local fisherman Jonny Willis, who runs Fish Kaikoura fishing charters, said he was angry that boaties like him were getting the blame for the problems when others using the water were, in his view, taking dangerous risks.
"Most of us skippers obey the five knot rule in that area, but divers are still at risk if they dont stay near their flag.
"They are crossing the boat channel with no flag and we cant always see them clearly.
"Even at five knots a boat creates a wake."
Mr Willis said the problem did not lie solely with divers, but also with the fishermen who fish off the wharf. He said boats regularly ran over lines which could cause potentially devastating consequences, even splitting the gear box, if not detected.
"The trouble is we can't see the nylon wires in the sun. I have caught two lines myself and been abused for it. Even if we do spot them in time, in a boating channel we cant just veer off course."
Mr Willis said that while he was fully behind recreational fishing and diving and acknowledged everyone should have the right to share the water, he felt there needed to be rules.
First of all there should be adequate signage and education for all parties, plus monitoring of the rules. For their own safety divers should have a flag with them when they are crossing the channel.
He also suggested that fishing lines be brought in when boats were passing.
However Ally Etty, from Dive Kaikoura, said although it was recommended, divers were not legally required to carry a flag. She said that there were some commercial boats that were going too fast at Jimmy Armers and they should take more care.
"They are the ones legally who should be aware of what's in the water. A boat's speed should be no more than five knots within 200 metres from shore, another boat or a diver.
"Also a diver is not necessarily under their float inexperienced divers can panic and surface anywhere."
She said that was why it was so important for boaties to be looking around as well as slowing down.
Mr Roberts said jet skiers in the ski lane provided were supposed to go clockwise but "they go every way which suits them".
He said fines could be levied but it was preferable to use the diplomatic approach.
"Everyone else toes the line. But not them. It will come to fines ... we usually have to tell them couple of times. They'll come round in time I suppose."
Mr Roberts said his major concern was that someone would be hurt if attitudes didn't change.