• 2021 January 20 14:45

    Amendments to increase safety proposed to Finland's Water Traffic Act

    Finland’s  Ministry of Transport and Communications has sent the draft government bill for amending the Water Traffic Act for a round of consultations. The key proposals for amendments are related to the safety of water transport.

    The comprehensive reform of the Water Traffic Act entered into force on 1 June 2020. Needs to specify the Act have emerged, for example, in connection with practical monitoring last summer and after entirely new types of watercraft have entered the market. The number of a wide variety of summer events organised on water has also increased.

    It is proposed that the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom be given more extensive powers to interrupt or restrict water transport to increase the safety of different events organised on water. The water areas in which an interruption or restriction could be imposed would include, for example, a certain water area in the vicinity of a harbour, which can be accessed by the participants and audience of the event.

    Specifications are also proposed to the Act’s provisions on canals and it is proposed that access to a lock canal could for safety reasons be banned for certain watercraft or their access to it could be restricted. For example, the ban or restriction could apply to the use of personal watercraft in older lock canals with a strong current.

    In the draft government bill, it is proposed that the possibility to also grant exemptions to regulations concerning the equipment and supplies of a certain type of watercraft intended for sport and leisure activities be added to the Act. The provision would be needed because of the fast development of new watercraft. For example, such new watercraft include motorised surfboards, which are already found in Finland and are practically impossible to use in compliance with all of the equipment requirements.

    It is proposed that virtual navigational aids be added to the definition of navigational aids. They would mainly be used temporarily in areas where a physical navigational aid is difficult to maintain. Broadening the definition would also promote water transport automation.


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