Personal watercraft hire and drive tours
Following a successful trial of this type of business model in the Hawkesbury River, Maritime will enable businesses to conduct supervised personal watercraft (PWC) hire and drive tour operations on NSW waterways, when approved via application. Initially, approvals will be given by issuing exemptions to the Marine Safety Regulation and requiring compliance with a Direction Notice.
A robust regulatory framework for these operations will be introduced in 2023 and exemptions will be formalised in the new framework.
Developing a safer PWC community
By enabling this type of activity, Maritime’s intention is to increase the education available to PWC users and ensure key commercial operators assist with growing a safer PWC community that is more aware of their on-water impact and other NSW waterways users.
Supervised PWC hire and drive operations will allow people new to PWCs to experience driving a PWC without a licence, under strictly controlled conditions and with qualified tour guides.
Education about safety and safe behaviours will be a key component of any tours, while speed, and conditions of operation will be restricted and monitored by Maritime.
Operators will be required to demonstrate that they have assessed the risks of their proposed business and all necessary safety and control measures implemented to manage the activity within the area of operation.
Proposals to conduct supervised PWC hire and drive tours
Applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis with a focus on considering the safety of all waterway users, the amenity of the waterway and the environment. Tour activities must integrate into the waterway user profile and no activities that require exclusive use areas will be considered.
Applications will be assessed to ensure:
- Proposed operation including number of vessels and participants, tour routes and number of tours, are suitable for the waterway and integrate into the existing waterway user profile
- The business has detailed plans to manage the tour and tour participants
- The business has detailed plans on managing business processes such as record keeping and reporting
- There is a clear focus on education and behaviours demonstrated by detailed theory and practical education and assessments
- That Australian Maritime Safety Authority approvals and documentation for the proposed operation are provided
- There is evidence of landowner consent where a land-based component is required for the proposed operation
- There is evidence of stakeholder consultation for the proposed area of operation
- There is evidence of other authority approvals relevant to the proposed area of operation
- There is evidence of appropriate business insurances.
Additional details for applicants are available in the applicant guide, which provides detail on the application process.
Certain areas in NSW waterways may not be suitable for this type of operation, dependant on waterway conditions and existing usage. Areas where tours are likely to be considered unsuitable include:
- Areas with high levels of non-compliance and incidents
- Areas involving the crossing of coastal bars and operating in open waters
- Areas with high numbers of hazards to navigation
- Areas with high vessel or commercial traffic
- Areas with limited access for emergency response, including communication blackspots.
Areas where tours will not be considered include:
- Sydney Harbour
- Other areas currently closed to the operation of PWC or powered vessels.
Proposals under the interim arrangements will be accepted for consideration until April 2023 and approvals given are based on providing an exemption to the existing Marine Safety Regulation.
A revised regulatory framework for these operations will be introduced in 2023. The amended framework will provide businesses with a higher level of business assurance, rights of appeal, clear rules around renewal and transfer. Application and processing fees will apply.