Call for jet-ski ban on the River Tweed
A demonstration has been held to highlight concerns about the impact of jet-skiers on the River Tweed and its wildlife.
Recently-formed campaign group, Tweed Estuary Protection Group (TEPG), held the protest next to Berwick lifeboat station on Tuesday.
Meg Brown, TEPG co-ordinator, said: “It’s not that all jet-skiers are irresponsible but there are enough of them and that is a major problem.”
Coun Robert Bruce added: “We are fortunate to have an abundance of wildlife on the river and, of course, dolphins in the bay which have become a major tourism draw and we have to protect them.”
Some members of the group think jet-skiers should be completely banned from the river.
At the very lease they want restrictions to be introduced and for them to be enforced.
The Tweed estuary is now designated twice over as an SSSI (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) and an SAC (a Special Area for Conservation) and now, as of last week, comes under a MCZ (Marine Conservation Zone).
Meg said: “This is a very beautiful estuary and part of what they people love is its serenity, the dolphins and famous mute swans and when we get a few jet-skiers who disrupt that environment it’s distressing so we’re hoping to have some regulation and monitoring of that.”
Coun Bruce has also written to Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham to press the case.
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“The problem at the moment is that no-one patrols the river,” he added.
A group spokesman added: “Berwick is becoming increasingly known as somewhere visitors can easily see dolphins especially from the lighthouse, the pier and from licensed boat cruises. Dolphin watching is a wonderful free asset which adds to the local tourism experience. We need to look after it.
“Other concerns are physical danger to bathers and swimmers, annoyance to other low impact watercraft and water users including surfers, paddleboarders, canoes, kayaks, rowers and sailors.
“The group feels that the general noise and disruption associated with jet skis will have a generally negative economic impact on locals and visitors alike.
“The famous mute swans which gather in the Tweed each year to moult are also at risk of disturbance, especially when they can’t fly away to avoid the on-rushing jet skis.
“Aquaplaning jet skis also break the speed limit already in place and should be banned for that alone. Clearly some of these folk come to Berwick to avoid the launch fees and closer scrutiny they come under at other places such as Blyth, Beadnell and Amble. They have free rein at the moment in Berwick and are riding rough-shod over the estuary and our wildlife and trashing our wonderful local environment.”
TEPG will now seek support from local groups, county councillors and Northumberland County Council and attempt to curtail activities of jet-skiers.
The next meeting is on June 12 at St Paul’s Church Hall.