There are increasing reports of jet ski users breaching swim-only buoy areas along the seafront, often exceeding the 5mph speed limit by up to more than ten times its limit. The council’s lifeguards face the possibility of near-incidents, especially during the summer months. The Argus’ Laurie Churchman reported that Brighton lifeguards ‘deal with hundreds of jet skis violating coastal rules’ each year, most of which ‘escape punishment.’ Many swimmers now fear the possibility of a fatal accident.
This includes local swimming coach Patrick Gilmartin, who has launched a campaign on change.org to enforce an exclusion zone off Brighton Beach. Current regulations allow jet ski riders to travel up to 200 metres from the shoreline between Saltdean and Shoreham. The proposed exclusion zone would extend from the Brighton Marina to Hove lagoon, stretching one kilometre outwards from the beach. The campaign is aimed at keeping non-essential powered watercraft at a safe distance from the swimming public.
Gilmartin’s plea for the reconsideration of boundaries reads as follows:
As a sea swimmer/user in Brighton you will be aware of the risk we have to take each time we want to use the water, with jet skis and power boats speeding past with no regard for other people. On any good day you can see them shooting through the Brighton Palace Pier, it is only a matter of time before someone is killed.
The petition has already received over 600 online signatures since its launch by Gilmartin earlier this month. Supporters of Gilmartin’s proposition to review the boundaries of swimming zones include local MPs Peter Kyle, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Caroline Lucas. Peter Kyle himself has signed Gilmartin’s petition, stating that:
There are miles of water out there to enjoy and no reason at all why jet skis need to come close to the shore. Keeping people safe is more important than giving others the chance to show off, so I’ve signed the petition and support an exclusion zone.