Motorised Water Sports

Riding a jet ski, water-skiing, para-sailing and other water sport activities are increasingly popular in some areas of the Marine Park. The activities are usually offered as part of either a hire operation or a tour/charter, but can also be the primary activity of a tourism product.

Because there is the potential for these activities to affect other peoples' enjoyment of the area and interfere with wildlife, there are some special management arrangements in place for motorised water sports.

What is motorised water sports?

You are considered to be undertaking motorised water sports when you:

  • Use a personal watercraft (e.g. jet ski) for any reason, except as transport between two places by the most direct and reasonable route (not including irregular driving).
  • Undertake any activity that involves towing a person (e.g.water-skiing or para-sailing).
  • Drive any motorised vessel in an irregular way (e.g. hooning).

What permits do I need?

To include motorised water sports in your tourism program, you will need a Marine Parks permit that specifically allows the activity of motorised water sports or the hire of such equipment. Most Marine Park tourism operation permits do not allow motorised water sports. Check your permit and if the activity is not included then you can apply for it to be added.

What do I need to know?

Firstly, please make sure you understand your permit. There may be some specific conditions relating to motorised water sports, including some exclusions where you must not conduct this activity and some specific conditions for Magnetic Island (see Related Links).

Secondly, there are some important management arrangements in each of the Planning Areas. Whether you are offering motorised water sports as part of a hire operation, it is your primary activity or it is an extra activity from your vessel, please take the time to learn about these arrangements (see below).

What if it is part of a hire operation?

In each of the Planning Areas, you are able to operate the motorised water sports as part of your hire operation every day without a booking, providing that the motorised water sports vessel is less than 6 metres in overall length.

  • In the Cairns Planning Area, the activity of motorised water sports may only be conducted outside Locations (i.e. generally 500 metres away from reefs).
  • In the Hinchinbrook Planning Area, the activity of motorised water sports may only be conducted in intensive use Locations or outside Locations (i.e. generally 500 metres away from reefs). The hiring of the craft must be from an intensive use Location.
  • In the Whitsunday Planning Area, the activity of motorised water sports may only be conducted in setting 1 areas, the Designated Water Sports Area on the western side of North Molle Island, or outside setting areas (i.e. generally 1500 metres away from reefs). The hiring of the craft must be from a setting 1 area.

What if it is my primary activity?

In all Planning Areas, you may operate to the level of access granted in your permit.

  • In the Cairns Planning Area, generally you are able to operate for 50 days per year with a booking unless endorsed for greater access. Motorised water sports may only be conducted outside Locations (i.e. generally 500 metres away from reefs).
  • In the Hinchinbrook Planning Area, you are able to operate all year and without a booking if your motorised water sports operation uses craft that are less than 6 metres in length and you base your operation on land. (If your vessel is 6 metres or greater than you require a tour/charter operation permit). The activity of motorised water sports may only be conducted in intensive use Locations or outside Locations (generally 500 metres away from reefs) unless endorsed for greater access.
  • In the Whitsunday Planning Area, generally you are able to operate in the Planning Area for 50 days per year with a booking unless endorsed for greater access. The activity of motorised water sports may only be conducted in setting 1 areas, the Designated Water Sports Area on the western side of North Molle Island, or outside setting areas (generally 1500 metres away from reefs).

What if it is an extra activity from my vessel?

In each of the Planning Areas, you may operate to the level of access of your primary vessel according to your permit. Generally, you are able to operate your tour/charter operation for 50 days per year with a booking unless endorsed for greater access.

  • In the Cairns Planning Area, motorised water sports may only be conducted outside Locations (i.e. generally 500 metres away from reefs).
  • In the Hinchinbrook Planning Area, motorised water sports may only be conducted in intensive use Locations or outside Locations (i.e. generally 500 metres away from reefs). When operating from a vessel, the motorised water sports vessel must be less than 6 metres in overall length and must be operated within 0.5 nautical miles of the parent vessel.
  • In the Whitsunday Planning Area, the activity of motorised water sports may only be conducted in setting 1 areas,the Designated Water Sports Area on the western side of North Molle Island, or outside setting areas (i.e. generally 1500 metres away from reefs) (see Download Maps).

Finally, please check with Maritime Safety Queensland about important safety requirements.

How can I help protect the Reef

Whenever you are operating in the Marine Park, you can help protect the Reef by following the responsible reef practices, especially the one for motorised water sport.

Download Maps

Whitsundays Motorised Water Sports Map [PDF 838KB]

 

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