In the summer, the Department of Transport published a consultation paper proposing that the definition of ‘ship’ in five pieces of merchant shipping legislation dealing with registration as a British ship, safety of vessels, conduct endangering ships, structures or individuals and ‘drink/drive laws on the water’ should be extended to every description of watercraft which are not currently classified as ‘ships’. The proposals were motivated by problems caused by irresponsible drivers of personal watercraft (eg jet-skis) in coastal waters, but they would also bring within the extended legislation: sailing dinghies, rowing boats, sailboards, canoes, rowing eights, fours etc and speedboats, for example.
The NSBA responded to the consultation. The response is on the NSBA website. The NSBA stated that, while there might be a need for the proposed extension of the legislation to those waters where there is currently no legislative regime in order to deal with the unsafe navigation, or the unsafe condition, of vessels, or the effect of alcohol or drugs, the navigation area of the Broads is already subject to an adequate legislative regime in these respects in respect of vessels of the types listed above. The NSBA stated that there is no need for further legislation relating to safety as far as the Broads are concerned. To introduce it would lead to unnecessary duplication with the risk of inconsistency between the two regimes.
The outcome of this consultation is not yet known.