Surfers sore at jetski ban


SURFER Warren Cornish hangs out for the big waves.

But these moments, which Mr Cornish says are like gold, will soon be even harder to reach.

Mr Cornish and other North Coast surfers are furious that under new laws ? which come into effect on May 1 ? banning personal watercraft for leisure purposes from the Cape Byron Marine Park, they will no longer be able to use jet skis to tow to the biggest waves.

Tow-in surfers say they shouldn't be thrown into the same bucket as "hoon" jet skiers. They also say the laws will be ineffective as people will "gladly pay fines to get a good wave".

But Cape Byron Marine Parks Manager Andrew Page said public opinion was behind the move. He said many people wanted jet skis banned.

And the majority of complaints to the Ballina Maritime Authority are to do with tow-in surfing. Several complaints a week were made, mostly claiming jet skiers were not keeping a safe distance of 200 metres or more from swimmers and surfers.

As of May 1, anyone using personal watercraft like jet skis will be required to hold a permit to ride at Cape Byron Marine Park.

Permits are likely to be only given for safety purposes such as for life-saving clubs and for training.

But Warren Cornish, from the Lennox Head Tow-In Surfing Association, said the regulations were unfair and were poorly thought-out.

"A good wave is worth everything ? more than any fine," he said. "You just can't get the big waves without personal watercrafts; you can't get out there."

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