Warning to boat owners

Users of Lake Dunstan who break local bylaws are now more likely to be fined.

The bylaws had been in place since 1996, but a recent review by the Central Otago District Council's legal team has tightened the legislation behind them, meaning it is easier for them to be enforced, harbourmaster Shayne Hitchcock said.

Ignorance of the laws was not an excuse, but he usually gave people a warning as his role was just as much about education as it was about enforcement.

''And I've never had to speak to anybody a second time.''

This summer, one of his main focuses would be the ''keep right'' rule, which requires boat operators, including those on jet skis and in canoes or kayaks, to stay on the right, the opposite of road law.

The other would be the 50m rule - do not exceed 5 knots within 50m of any other vessel, raft or swimmer.

Both offences could incur a $300 fine.

There are 45 bylaws set by the council, most with a $300 fine if broken.

A few incur a $500 penalty - letting a person younger than 15 use a powered vessel without supervision and ones relating to disobeying the directions of the harbourmaster.

Mr Hitchcock, the Lake Dunstan harbourmaster for about 15 years, said he had never had to write out an infringement notice.


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