RYA welcomes legislation to regulate the safe operation of personal watercraft

Department for Transport introduce new law to prosecute dangerous and negligent misuse of watercraft.
19 Jan 23
A woman is riding a pwc during a training session

Legislation from the Department for Transport (DfT) to bring some previously unregulated activities within the scope of the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA) 1995 was yesterday (18 January) laid before Parliament. 

DfT have confirmed that the new law, the Merchant Shipping (Watercraft) Order, will come into force on 31 March 2023, before the busy summer period. It will apply existing ship operator rules to personal watercraft (PWCs), and other powered recreational craft, and will enable watercraft users to be prosecuted for dangerous and negligent use.

The new law introduces a definition for watercraft which applies to any craft capable of moving under its own mechanical power. It is intended to act as a deterrent to those who might otherwise use watercraft in a reckless and inappropriate manner and aims to reduce accidents resulting in personal injury or damage to property.

Mel Hide, RYA Director of External Affairs, commented: “The RYA welcomes the intent of the new legislation, safe enjoyable boating remains our top priority and the new Merchant Shipping (Watercraft) Order will be an important part of safety on the water. We look forward to working with the Department for Transport and supporting them with the on-going development of legislation to maintain the current high safety standards.” 

We are working on a guide that will provide information on the new rules and how these might affect you. In the meantime you can read the new Order on the GOV.UK website.

Find out more about PWC courses and riding responsibly

If you are an RYA Member and have a question regarding the new legislation, you can email the RYA Cruising team.