The owner of a 25ft motorboat berthed within Littlehampton Harbour must now pay £2,740 to the courts after being found guilty of multiple breaches of harbour regulations. The case was considered on the 17th September 2020 in Crawley Magistrates’ Court after the skipper pleaded guilty to not listening to the port’s VHF radio channel whilst underway in the harbour, failing to comply with verbal directions issued by harbour staff and impeding the passage of a large commercial vessel under pilotage. He was fined £1,000 and must also pay £1,690 to cover prosecution costs and a £50 victim surcharge.
The incident occurred on 3rd August 2019 whilst the harbour was temporarily closed all craft to permit the safe entry of a 68 metre long ship through the harbour’s restricted entrance. The motorboat entered the harbour during the closure and then departed the harbour again at speeds exceeding the speed limit after disregarding verbal directions to return to their mooring from the crew onboard harbour pilot boat ERICA. His actions contributed to the delay in the entry of the ship and further inconvenienced the cooperative harbour users who were patiently waiting to safely enter or depart the harbour.
After the hearing, Harry Gregory, Harbour Master for Littlehampton Harbour said: “Our team will continue to educate harbour users of their duty of care and raise awareness of the regulations put in place to protect all harbour users, wildlife and the environment. We hope this will serve as a further warning to the minority of irresponsible users in addition to the other recent fines issued for speeding. The regulations are in place to ensure that all harbour users can enjoy their time on the water safely. The primary purpose of our seasonal patrols is to educate and assist harbour users but we have also now demonstrated that where harbour users break the rules, we will take enforcement action.”
This latest prosecution, which had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was the latest of four arising from incidents during the 2019 season. In February 2020, two Jet Skiers were each fined £200 and ordered to pay £30 victim surcharge and £500 costs after being found guilty of exceeding the speed limit and therefore endangering other harbour users and wildlife on the River Arun close to Ford on 15th September 2019. In the same month, the skipper of a 21ft sailing yacht was fined £300 and ordered to pay £30 victim surcharge and £500 costs after being found guilty of not listening to the port’s designated VHF radio channel and subsequently impeding the passage of the same ship on the 3rd August 2019.
The Harbour Master and his team have powers of Special Direction under the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847 and powers of General Direction under the Littlehampton Harbour Revision Order 2015. More information on harbour regulations can be found at: https://www.littlehampton.org.uk/harbour-safety/regulations-for-all-vessels/. During the 2020 season, several interviews under caution were conducted in response to unsafe use of the harbour. Littlehampton Harbour Board reserves the right to initiate a prosecution for 6 months from the date of the offence.
Harbour patrol vessels carry cameras and CCTV is in operation around the Harbour to document unlawful behaviour but harbour users and members of the public often play their part too. Inappropriate behaviour should be reported to the Harbour Master via 01903 721 215, email@example.com or using the Incident Report form at: https://www.littlehampton.org.uk/harbour-safety/accident-reporting-form/