Changes to make Urenui River safer

20 December 2007

Swimmers and other users of the lower Urenui River should be made safer this summer with changes to rules that will limit the speed of jet skis and other personal water craft (PWCs) in the area.

Following a two year period of public consultation and unanimous submissions supporting the move, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) has now removed the ski lane from the lower reaches of the river. The ski lane had allowed small craft and water skiers to travel faster than 5 knots within 200 meters of shore.

“The removal of the ski lane and the resulting speed limits that this imposes on jet skis and other vessels  close to the shore reflects the changing use of the river and is in response to the different needs of various water users,” says MNZ Maritime Safety Inspector Dave Coker.

“The lower Urenui river has become increasingly popular over the holiday period, with up to 200 vessels per day using the area.  Such a high volume of water traffic does create potential safety issues. In particular, water skiers have now been replaced by jet skiers and river users have become increasingly concerned about the incompatibility between PWCs, swimmers, kayakers and other boaties.”

Mr Coker said the change did not prevent boaties using an appropriate amount of speed to get over the Urenui River Bar, as long as it was done safely.  “We believe that the move will make the river safer for all users, while still allowing those who own jet skis and other PWCs plenty of opportunity to enjoy the area.”

Following formal gazetting of the removal of the ski lane, signs advising of the change will be put up and advertising placed in local newspapers. MNZ also has a number of volunteer Safe Boating Advisors who will be working over the summer to communicate the changes to river users, and report back on boatie behaviour for further follow-up action or education.

 “Now that the ski lane has been removed it will make our job of educating river users over the summer period a lot easier. We get huge numbers over the holiday period and this will make it a lot safer for all,” says Safe Boating Advisor Darcy Mace.

Eleven submissions were received in favour of the move, and none opposed.  Among those consulted were the New Plymouth District Council, Taranaki Regional Council, Clifton Community Board and Urenui Boating Club.

NOTE TO EDS/PHOTOGS: DAVE COKER OF MNZ , SAFE BOATING ADVISOR DARCY MACE AND URENUI COMMUNITY BOARD CHAIR  IAN VICKERS WILL BE AT THE URENUI RIVER ERECTING THE NEW SIGNAGE ON THURS 20 DECEMBER AT 1PM. CONTACT DAVE DIRECT ON 0275 877 706 OR 06 751 3131 TO ARRANGE PHOTOS.

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