Amid ongoing complaints of noisy and rowdy jet skiers at the Pearl-Qatar, the Coast Guard has told watercraft operators to stay clear of private property and hotels on the shores of the man-made island.
For more than a year, residents have complained of large groups recklessly using the waterways around the island, blaring music and motoring dangerously close to beaches, swimmers and paddle-boarders.
Despite previous promises from the management to crack down on the issue, residents say problems remain.
Alex Miller lives in a Qanat Quartier apartment, which overlooks both the sea and the canal.
She told Doha News that she was regularly disturbed by jet skiers, who often travel in convoys and rev their engines under her balcony to encourage her two dogs to bark.
“I cannot explain what the noise is like – AND we had two last weekend at (6am)!
This behavior is not only extremely selfish but shows a complete disregard for the residents here,” she said.
Another Qatat Quartier resident, Marieke, said that when she signed the lease to her apartment three weeks ago, she was assured that jet skis and other motorized vehicles were banned from the surrounding waterways.
Nevertheless, she told Doha News that boats and jet skis are still using the canals, especially on the weekend.
“You hear them well before you see them – flashing lights and playing loud music. It is worse at the weekend, when they rev through the canals at all times of the day and, more annoyingly, very early morning and night.”
“The users of these motorized boats and vehicles have no respect for privacy and zero consideration for other users of the water,” she added.
Coast Guard crackdown
Now the Coast Guard appears to be stepping up its response, publishing a warning this week on the Ministry of Interior (MOI) website to all jet ski users.
Described as “tips and guidelines that must be adhered to”, the advisory says:
“Jet skis users should be vigilant not to enter restricted areas, and keep away from private property and hotels located on sea shores and not to harass other sea-goers.”
The Coast Guard’s latest statement follows promises made by Pearl-Qatar management UDC earlier this year to crack down on the anti-social behavior.
In April, a UDC spokesman said that following meetings with the MOI, the Coast Guard would regularly patrol the Pearl’s waterways, to seize the jet skis and take action against violators.
Two months later, the company said it would be taking a “zero tolerance” line on the issue, and had started installing barricades to prevent jet skiers from entering small canals and residential areas.
However, Viva Bahriya resident Patty Conrad said that while she and her neighbors had been given a temporary reprieve after a barrier was set up to block vehicles from accessing their inlet. However, it was broken down three weeks ago and has not been replaced.
“Now the jet skiers and load boats are back in force,” she told Doha News.
Jet ski advice
Writing in a recent post on blog site Kayakadoodledoo, local kayak and paddle board enthusiast Jenn Wicks records her own experience of being “buzzed” by a jet skier while she was swimming.
She also says that barriers installed in a bid to keep out jet skiers are ineffective, as many are broken down or jumped in a bid to access restricted waters.
Describing an incident at the end of August with a group of jet skiers, she writes:
“I counted 25 in one pack at the same time! The noise was deafening and the wake they created was significant, crashing against Nikki Beach in large waves.”
She makes a number of suggestions for improvements, including setting up an official jet ski club in a designated area to encourage more organized use of the motorized water vehicles, education programs to make people aware of the risks involved and greater enforcement of existing rules.
Following similar complaints in Dubai, the emirate’s Maritime City Authority introduced new rules last summer to restrict the use of jet skis.
These included establishing dedicated jet ski areas, demarcated by yellow buoys, and surrounding these with a 300 meter buffer zone to protect swimmers.
Rules also restrict the operation of jet skis to the hours between sunrise and sunset.
In January this year, the DCMA said it would regularly patrol the city’s coastline to ensure compliance.