2002-04-27 / Front Page

Court Upholds Jamaica Bay Jet Ski Ban

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

The Department of the Interior ban on the use of jet skis and similar personal watercraft in the waters around national parks has been upheld by a U.S. District Court judge in Victoria, Texas.

The ban, which began on April 22, takes in the waters of the Gateway National Recreation Center, which includes most of Jamaica Bay.

In fact, jet ski operators will now be off limits in much of the waters off Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and parts of New Jersey, including both the ocean and bayside waters of Sandy Hook.

The move comes as part of an effort to halt both noise pollution around national parks and the halt "possible harm to the environment."

In addition, the personal watercraft have become a safety issue in recent years, with a number of people injured and killed in jet ski accidents.

"We have had lots of complaints about the noise and the safety issues," a national park spokesperson says.

In an effort to delay the ban, an industry group sued the National Park Service, claiming that the ban violates their right to due process and their natural right to enjoy their recreational priorities.

Last week, however, U.S. District Court Judge John Rainey in Texas, where the suit was brought, upheld the ban, arguing that banning personal watercraft may have a positive effect on the environment.

The ban will stay in effect until the NPS can fully study the problems caused by the watercraft. The public will be allowed to have input into that process, but no hearings have yet been scheduled for that purpose.

The ban will be enforced by both the National Park police and by the New York Police Department’s harbor units.

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