The RYA was part of the initial consultation process on the draft legislation which closed on 23 April 2004. At that time there was not a need to respond because the reporting requirements did not apply to recreational craft under 45 metres.
However, the final legislation was extended, to include all recreational craft under 45 metres - without consultation. This lack of consultation represented an unlawful breach of the Government's duty to consult. Lord Triesman during the debate on the Regulations on 28 October appeared to concede that "the consultation that is required" had not taken place.
Merchant Shipping (Vessel Traffic Reporting) Regulations 2004
The new Regulations came into force on 20 September and make it a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to £5,000, if skippers of such craft do not comply with the reporting requirements when a craft is involved in an 'incident' or 'accident'.
The definitions of 'accident' and 'incident' are broad; examples could include hitting a buoy during a race, a dinghy capsize, a flat battery, a faulty VHF radio, a crack in a transom, a torn sail or a berthing manoeuvre involving two craft touching would all have to be reported or criminalisation risked.
Rod Carr, RYA CEO explains
"The RYA has been in emergency talks with the Government agency responsible for the Regulations, the MCA, to try and understand how this happened, and to ascertain whether due process was followed. We were given reasons why the regulations were brought in without consultation but we feel that they are not substantive".
The RYA believes that the regulations are unclear and therefore we are not able to give any substantive advice on all the events that could constitute an "accident" or "incident" as defined in the regulations or where they apply.
If skippers are concerned that they may have been involved in an "accident" or "incident" that should be reported then they should contact the Maritime & Coastguard Agency for advice.