Irresponsible jet skiers have been banned from Sunderland's beachfront after a string of dangerous incidents.
This follows an increase in the number of complaints and near misses over recent months prompting Port of Sunderland Harbourmaster, Captain Kevin Ullah to take action.
Captain Ullah, said: “In recent weeks we've seen swimmers, non-motorised craft, pleasure boats and even shipping all being potentially endangered by the irresponsible use of jet skis.
“That's why I've taken an unusual step of issuing a Harbour Master’s Direction under statutory powers, which in effect bans jet skis from approaching within 200 metres of the prevailing tide line between Souter Point and Ryhope Dene.
"This is to protect beach users, swimmers and others present close inshore. In addition, the only permitted launching places at Sunderland are Hylton and Potato Garth slipways, while a blanket 6-knot speed limit remains in force on the river up to the outer pier ends."
The Port of Sunderland introduced water patrols to proactively engage with people misusing jet skis in the port in 2012. This led to a reduction in the number of complaints and incidents.
But Captain Ullah said despite the presence of the water patrols, more recently there has been a significant number of jet skis being used in a dangerous manner without any regards for their own safety or that of others.
He also warned that he would seek to take action against anyone flouting the rules.
Captain Ullah added: “We are working closely with Northumbria Police Marine Unit over this matter and while we hope we will not have to prosecute, we will take offenders to court should they not comply with this Direction."
Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chair of the Port Board, Councillor Graeme Miller, said: "It's shocking to see the irresponsible actions of a few thoughtless individuals putting the lives of swimmers and those using pleasure boats at risk." I hope that those responsible will take heed of this warning otherwise we can and will take legal action against them."
Inspector Graeme Homewood, of Northumbria Police’s Firearms Support and Marine Unit, said: "Public safety is paramount and it is disappointing to hear that the selfish actions of a minority have recently been putting lives in danger.
"We will continue to work hand-in-hand with all our partners including Sunderland City Council to protect those on our coastlines and take appropriate action against anybody who breaks the law."