Cracking down on Personal Watercraft

Published on January 19th, 2023

The Personal Watercraft (PWC) category is expanding with jet skis, waverunners, and jetboards, but they all have two things in common. They are fun and make you stupid, or at least the fun can lead to bad seamanship.

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA), which oversees all forms of boating in Britain, shares how troublemakers will be dealt with differently in 2023:


Legislation from the Department for Transport (DfT) to bring some previously unregulated activities within the scope of the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA) 1995 was laid before Parliament on January 18, 2023.

DfT have confirmed that the new law, the Merchant Shipping (Watercraft) Order, will come into force on March 31, 2023. It will apply existing ship operator rules to PWCs, and other powered recreational craft, and will enable watercraft users to be prosecuted for dangerous and negligent use.

Sail GP

The new law introduces a definition for watercraft which applies to any craft capable of moving under its own mechanical power. It is intended to act as a deterrent to those who might otherwise use watercraft in a reckless and inappropriate manner and aims to reduce accidents resulting in personal injury or damage to property.

“The RYA welcomes the intent of the new legislation, safe enjoyable boating remains our top priority and the new Merchant Shipping (Watercraft) Order will be an important part of safety on the water,” said Mel Hide, RYA Director of External Affairs. “We look forward to working with the Department for Transport and supporting them with the on-going development of legislation to maintain the current high safety standards.”

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