Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

New bye laws aimed at boaters

9th March 2009

In a week that saw the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) publishing boating advice for local authorities, another county council has taken the step to ban recreational craft from its beaches. Fifteen councils have now published bye-laws restricting access to their waters, an action the sailing body says is unwarranted in some cases

Up until now the measures have focussed on fast power craft but now measures could also affect sailing craft.

Donegal County Council has used the Maritime Safety Act 2005 to create a bye-law that specifically bans personal watercraft (jet skis) from being used on all but one beach in Donegal.

Bye-laws have been introduced because of the nuisance caused by fast power craft users, but regulations to be enacted this summer are disproportionate to the problems associated with the minority of users involved.

In Dun Laoghaire - the country's largest boating centre on Dublin bay - the Harbour Company saw fit to put a barrier across the only public slipway in the harbour. The ISA claim that only through their intervention was a compromise reached to this situation. A width restriction on vehicles using the slip is now in place.

In Donegal the fear is that traditional safe moorings could be scheduled as prohibited waters; these include Downings Harbour and Marblehill in Sheephaven Bay, and at Rathmullen on Lough Swilly, all traditional boating spots.

"Both trailer sailors and visiting yachts need to be made aware of where they aren’t welcome - the fines start at €1,000" say local sailors.

The ISA aim is to help local authorities promote water sports, but more and more councils are resorting to bye-laws to ban them.

ISA chief executive Harry Hermon fears the wording of bye laws could also be used to prohibit the use of other recreational craft.

“Recreational craft” as defined in the Maritime Safety Act 2005 could extend to a large number of boats. The act says  “recreational craft” means a craft of not more than 24 metres in length intended for sports and leisure purposes.

Last weekend the association launched its “Guidelines for the Management of Boating Activities as a part of a Water Based Amenity” at their National Conference in the Burlington Hotel.

The aim is to help local authorities to promote water sports activity in each county. The ISA maintain self regulation is the key to the management of a national pleasure craft fleet now numbering over 25,000. Team

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