MARINE NOTICE No 29 of 2021 All navigations Legislation and guidance on the use of Personal Water Craft (Jet skis)


No 29 of 2021

All navigations

Legislation and guidance on the use of Personal Water Craft (Jet skis)


Waterways Ireland wishes to provide advice to operators of Personal Water Craft (Jet skis) in order to ensure the safe enjoyment of the waterways for all.


Personal Watercraft (PWC) are largely enjoyed responsibly, yet they present a risk to other water users, protected wildlife and can be a source of nuisance.  This note provides legislative guidance for enforcement officers.


  • Definition[1]. PWCs, often referred to as jet-skis, are a rapidly increasing in popularity. PWC is a watercraft that is less than 4.88 metres, propelled by a two or four stroke petrol engine that powers a water jet pump. Capable of speeds exceeding 100 km/hr and are highly manoeuvrable.


  • Associated Hazards.  Recent experience has identified: 

Ø  Fatal[2] or near-fatal accidents involving collisions with swimmers.

Ø  High incidence of accidents with PWCs and collision with other craft.

Ø  Breach of local speed limits.

Ø  Associated anti-social activity; noise, nuisance/aggressive driving and disregard for other water users.

Ø  Disturbance of protected wild-life.


  • Legislation.  PWCs are subject to Local Authority Bye-Laws[3] and the Maritime Safety Act 2005[4] the majority of which require users of PWCs to:
  • Be familiar with relevant bye-laws in force in the waters they use, as bye laws differ, and many inland lakes prohibit PWCs e.g. Corrib and Mask.
  • Have a permit granted by the Council or Waterways Ireland, that can be produced when requested by an authorised officer or member of An Garda Síochána.
  • Comply with local water speed limits. Specifically, 5 knots when entering and exiting launch areas or areas with designated speed limits.
  • Exceptional care and attention in the vicinity of bathers, no more than 5 knots.
  • Irrespective of local speed limits; no PWC should be navigated at such speed or in such manner as to cause or be likely to cause nuisance, injury or damage to persons or property or to other vessels or boats.
  • Wear Personal Flotation Device / Lifejacket at all times, including when being towed.
  • Act in such a manner as not to cause annoyance to any person using a beach or swimming in the sea or to disturb naturally occurring flora and fauna.
  • On coastal areas the use of PWCs within 300 metres of the foreshore is prohibited except at the designated launch areas.
  • No person shall bring a jet-ski or fast power boat into a Designated Bathing Area.
  • Persons under the age of 16 years should not operate a PWC (SI 921 of 2005).
  • PWCs must be launched and recovered from designated sites.
  • Penalties vary depending on Local Authority Bye-Laws.


Exempt from bye-laws are craft operated in the course of duty of the Council, An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, Revenue Commissioners, Central Fisheries Board or a Regional Fisheries Board, Irish Coast Guard, Commissioners of Irish Lights and Royal National Lifeboat Institute, Community Rescue Boats or any craft involved in bona fide law enforcement, emergency or rescue missions.


Waterways Ireland thanks waterways users for their co-operation in relation to this matter.



Patrick Harkin

Inspector of Navigation

02 June 2021