Written Answers. - Pleasure Craft Regulation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

60 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the degree to which his Department applies internationally accepted safety standards to all pleasure crafts; the further plans he has in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17613/01]

The European Community Directive 94/25 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administration provisions of member states relating to recreational craft became fully operational in June 1998, and has been transposed into Irish law by the European Communities (Recreational Craft) Regulations, 1998, S.I. No. 40 of 1998. The aim of the directive is to eliminate barriers to trade by approximating design and construction standards for recreational craft throughout the Community. The directive does not, however, regulate the safe operation of recreational craft or compliance with other safety standards by users of such craft. Other than this directive, there are no internationally agreed standards for the safe use of all pleasure craft and each country implements its own regulatory framework as required.

The Deputy will no doubt be aware that the final report of the Action Group on Small Powered Recreational Craft, including personal watercraft, was presented to me in April 2000. This report included a number of recommendations on the matter of the safe use of pleasure craft and on the basis of these the necessary legislative framework for the regulation of these craft was developed by my Department. The introduction of this legislative framework was achieved through the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act, 2000, which amended the Merchant Shipping Act, 1992. The result of these amendments is that the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources is now empowered to introduce statutory regulations to take account not only of the safety of pleasure craft and their occupants, but also the safety of other persons resulting from the use of the craft.
In this regard I will shortly be introducing an initial phase of regulations which will contain national provisions governing the safe use of personal watercraft, jet skis, fast power craft and other mechanically propelled pleasure craft. These will include,inter alia, provisions relating to age restrictions, the carriage and use of lifejackets, restrictions on the use of alcohol and drugs as well as provisions relating to the careless and dangerous driving of such craft.
The Action Group on Small Powered Recreational Craft made other recommendations relating to issues such as insurance and registration of pleasure craft as well as training and competence of users. These will now be addressed in greater detail by my Department, in full consultation with those in the sector, in order to design legislative provisions which are reasonable and practical, following the successful introduction and implementation of the initial phase of regulations.