The Coomera River (South Branch) is a community asset which forms part of our waterways network, supporting vital activities like marine industry, recreation and tourism. Boating is encouraged and there are many different types of boats and vessels using the river. Access is provided via several public boat ramps and other marine facilities. The speed limit trial in the Coomera River (South Branch) started in July 2018 and will run until the end of June 2019.
Q Why is there a speed limit trial in the Coomera River (South Branch)?
A Our Speed Limits and Behaviour Management Strategy 2018-2020 approved by our Board provides for speed limit trials to be undertaken in support of our overarching vision of sustaining, enhancing and promoting our waterways. We’re assessing whether the trial speed limits will maintain appropriate levels of marine safety while improving travel times for smaller boats and addressing the problem of damaging wash caused by the speed of larger vessels.
Q What consultation has been undertaken to date?
A Consultation undertaken for the Speed Limits and Behaviour Management Strategy 2018-2020 showed that most of the local community wanted us to focus on wash, keeping the speed limits simple, and removing unnecessary 6 knots speed zones. For this trial, we’ve consulted with agencies such as Maritime Safety Queensland, Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol and the Queensland Police Service, waterways users, businesses and residents. We’ll continue to consult these and other stakeholders as the trial progresses.
Q Will there be any further consultation?
A Yes consultation is open until 30 June 2019. We’d like to hear your views at any time. Please email us at email@example.com or write to us at PO Box 107 Southport, QLD, 4215. We also plan to undertake further consultation with other Queensland Government departments, key stakeholder groups, commercial operators, waterways users and residents.
Q What are the “30 metre” yellow buoys for?
A The temporary “30 metre” yellow buoys were established to help educate river users about the safe separation distances for different water users. They support enforcement work by the Gold Coast Water Police for the “distance-off” operational speed limits. You can learn more about these speed limits here https://www.msq.qld.gov.au/Waterways/Speed-limits.
Q What role does GCWA play when it comes to speed?
A GCWA is responsible for reviewing fixed speed limits and changing them where appropriate.
Q Who enforces the speed limits and other marine safety rules?
A The Gold Coast Water Police, Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol and Maritime Safety Queensland are responsible for enforcing speed limits and other safety rules. We work with these agencies to manage poor behaviour; for example, we refer complaints about speeding to them for further investigation.
Q What is the difference between fixed and operational speed limits?
A Fixed speed limits are those that are “fixed” by a gazette notice published in the Queensland Government Gazette. They can differ from area to area just like speed limits do on the roads; for example, 6 knots in some areas of the Coomera or Nerang Rivers, and 40 knots for some areas of the Broadwater. The general smooth water speed limit throughout Queensland is 40 knots; while the general speed limit for canals and marinas is 6 knots.
The speed limits are signed in the relevant areas.
Operational speed limits prescribe the maximum speed in particular circumstances; for example, 6 knots for vessels within 30 metres of a pontoon, 6 knots for personal watercraft (commonly called jet skis) within 60 metres of the shoreline, or 10 knots for personal watercraft within 30 metres of another moving vessel.
The operational speed limits are commonly called ‘distance off’ speed limits because they specify a certain distance for the speed limit.
For more information about speed limits go to https://gcwa.qld.gov.au/manage-access/speed-limits/
Q How do I report speeding boats and jet skis or other unsafe on-water behaviour?
A For the Gold Coast Water Police, the best way is through Policelink on 131 444 or at https://www.police.qld.gov.au/programs/policelink/. For Maritime Safety Queensland, you can call their local office on 07 5585 1810 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol, you can call their Gold Coast office on 07 5635 6900.
Q How do I report a marine incident, like a collision between boats?
A Please contact Maritime Safety Queensland on 07 5585 1810 or visit their website at www.msq.qld.gov.au and search for “marine incident”.
Q I’m confused about who does what on the waterways, where can I find information?
A We’ve produced Who’s Who in the Blue to help you understand which agencies are responsible for managing on-water behaviour and issues like speed limits.
Q Have you considered possible impacts on jetties and pontoons?
A Yes. Studies by the Australian Maritime College show that smaller boats travelling at faster speeds of 20 knots cause lower energy wash, which minimises damage to private structures. This is the reason why we implemented the trial of 40 knots for smaller boats / 6 knots for larger boats, to specifically target the problem of damaging wash. You can read the Vessel Wave Wake Study relevant to the Speed and Behaviour Management Strategy for the Gold Coast Waterways Authority We share the community’s concern about damaging wash. This is why we encourage anyone who witnesses this to make a report to Gold Coast Water Police through Policelink on 131 444 or at https://www.police.qld.gov.au/programs/policelink/
Q Have you considered erosion and the marine environment?
A There’s no doubt the coastal river system is a dynamic environment and that any number of factors contribute to movements of mud, sand, silt and soil as well as erosion of the shoreline. Studies by the Australian Maritime College show that smaller boats travelling at speeds faster than 20 knots or so cause lower energy wash, which produces less impact upon the shoreline. This is the reason why we implemented the trial of 40 knots for smaller boats / 6 knots for larger boats, to specifically target the problem of damaging wash.
We’ve also thought about marine wildlife. It’s important to remember that the river system is a dredged channel for vessel navigation with only very small meadows of seagrass near the banks of Coomera Island, away from where boats and jet skis would normally operate. We always urge users to keep an eye out for marine animals such as dugongs and turtles to avoid strikes. The Department of Environment and Science has created “go slow” areas in the Moreton Bay Marine Park to protect marine wildlife and sensitive areas. Any enquiries about marine wildlife should be directed to that department.
Q Have you considered potential noise impacts?
A Nuisance noise from power boat sport is already addressed by environmental legislation and should not be confused with speed limits that are set under marine safety legislation. Any questions about noise from jet skis or other forms of power boat sport should be directed to the City of Gold Coast. More information about noise from boats and jet skis can be found on the City’s website here http://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/report-a-problem-noise-42558.html
Q When will the trial end?
A 30 June 2019
Q Will you end the trial earlier?
A Our preference is to complete the trial and monitor and evaluate its effectiveness in order to make a properly informed decision. The reason we opted for a 12-month trial is because waterways activity changes with the seasons and holiday periods and we want to capture the full range of waterways use. All feedback and comments from the community will be considered as part of our evaluation.
Q How will you evaluate the trial?
A GCWA will carefully consider all the feedback and comments from the community and key stakeholders, as well as marine incident data and compliance data, feedback from the on-water enforcement agencies, and the statistics gathered through our own in-the-field observations before deciding on future speed limits.
Q How could GCWA increase the speed limit from 6 to 40 knots? What about safety?
A GCWA shares the community’s concern for safety. However, we also understand the importance of Gold Coast waterways as community assets for recreation, tourism and local marine industries. There’s a comprehensive suite of existing regulations for speed limits, freestyling, water skiing and anchoring, which complement rules of the Collision Regulations for things like keeping a proper look-out and travelling at a safe speed. We encourage anyone who witnesses speeding boats or jet skis, or any other unsafe activities, to make a report to Gold Coast Water Police through Policelink on 131 444 or at https://www.police.qld.gov.au/programs/policelink/.