Crackdown on river offenders starts in Noosa
A CRACKDOWN on illegal activity on Sunshine Coast waterways started over the weekend in Noosa and will be rolled out across the region through the extended Christmas holiday season.
Maritime Safety Queensland has deployed its special enforcement team of four compliance officers on jetskis as part of its campaign.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the operation was a follow-up to a successful inaugural education and compliance operation on the Gold Coast.
"Maritime Safety Queensland not only sets the regulations for safe boating but takes a keen interest in ensuring those rules are obeyed," Mr Bailey said.
He said the team would be a highly-visible presence on the water serving as a reminder and, where needed, a persuader to ensure boaties met their safety obligations.
Mr Bailey said the team, supported by Queensland Water Police and Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers, has launcehd a three-week operation through to the weekend of December 20.
"This is a critical time for boating safety with the first wave of school holiday-makers arriving early December, and the introduction of the holiday speed limit throughout the Noosa Inlet and Noosa Sound areas which reduces the speed limit from 20 to 6 knots," he said.
"The team is expected to concentrate on safety in the first week - attending boat ramps during the first weekend to ensure boaters understand the changes in speed limits but will also be out on the water checking licensing and safety equipment.
"The Noosa Bar can be hazardous, so skippers of open boats less than 4.8m are reminded to make sure all passengers are wearing life jackets when they cross the bar and children less than 12-years-old are wearing life jackets at all times when the vessel is under way."
The team will also be ensuring safe distance is maintained between powered craft and families swimming in the Noosa River and river mouth inlet during a period when demand is high.
Mr Bailey said the Noosa compliance operation would include a crackdown on speed and alcohol offences.
"Noosa residents have made it clear they are fed up with reckless boaties flouting six-knot speed limits and distance-off rules especially around popular venues such as the Noosa Spit Recreation Reserve and we are determined to remedy this," he said.
The officers will operate within speed limits in areas where jetskis are prohibited and with blue flashing lights to make clear who they were.
"Noosa is a popular holiday destination, especially for boating families and our goal is to ensure everyone enjoys their time on these iconic waters safely and responsibly," Mr Bailey said.
Meanwhile, Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington is delighted MSQ will be stationing a permanent officer based at Queensland Fisheries facility at Munna Point, who would be able to call on up to 10 patrol officers during this peak period.
Cr Wellington said this extra presence has come about by a fair bit of lobbying behind the scenes by Member for Noosa Sandy Bolton.
"Both Sandy and I are thrilled with the outcome - which is even better than we hoped," he said.
Mwanwhile, on Friday the council endorsed the draft Noosa River Plan with minor amendments to go out for public consultation on December 2.
The vision plan's statement has been changed to: "Our vision is that the Noosa River is recognised as the healthiest and most biodiverse system in South East Queensland. Our aim is to manage and protect the catchment's waterways and wetlands to achieve the greatest possible level of community well-being, now and in the future."
Mayor Wellington said despite the Healthy Land and Waterways A- rating, "we know the river is under stress".
"There is significant work to do in spite of the fact that it still is a relatively healthy river by southest Queensland standards," he said.
"That is a fantastic result. For some years now we've been knocking on the state's door."
He said the MSQ would resolve council's concerns about the costs to ratepayers of it funding council officers policing anchoring, mooring and living onboard.