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Jet ski owners and operators took part in a town hall meeting this week set up to increase awareness of safety on the water.

Organised by the Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS), also in attendance were representatives from the Coast Guard, Ministry of Tourism and the Port Authority.

The event took place at the Multi-Purpose Centre in Perry Bay on Wednesday with some in attendance via Zoom. It followed a meeting held last month with the ‘Skidadli’ group of jet ski operators who came together to discuss numerous complaints made about dangerous jet ski practices.

Commander Elroy Skerritt, of the Coast Guard, gave a presentation about safety and the requirements of the Small Craft Control Act 2015 and its 2017 Regulations.

He reminded participants that enforceable offences include exceeding the five knots speed limit within 75 metres of the shoreline, operating a jet ski under the influence, and driving within 50 metres of swimmers.

Penalties include a fine of up to $30,000 or a year in prison, or both.

Geoff Richardson, of private jet ski firm Real Paradise Antigua, told Observer the meeting was “really informative”.

“A lot of the ideas proposed have the potential to be beneficial to not only those who own and operate jet skis but to all beachgoers and boaters as well.

“It’s important to make sure that we jet ski owners and operators have a voice in rules and regulations that keep everyone safe on the water.”

He added, “I, for one, am always in favour of engaging in this type of dialogue. Ultimately, we want to ensure that safe operating procedures are in place and enforced in Antigua’s waters. In this case taking a proactive approach will benefit everyone in the long run.”

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