The Bulletin Board

Sununu vetoes bill banning jet skis near coastal marshlands

By: - May 25, 2021 5:44 pm
State house dome

The veto was Gov. Chris Sununu’s first of the session. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)

On Tuesday, Gov. Chris Sununu issued his first veto of the session – shooting down House Bill 184, which would have banned jet skis within 300 feet of marshlands at the Rye estuary and the New Castle back channel. In his veto message, Sununu said the protection was unnecessary because the area does not experience heavy jet ski traffic.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Kate Murray, a New Castle Democrat, was intended to conserve delicate ecosystems in the marshlands.

“We strive to make sure every waterway is open and available for all to enjoy but also protected from unmitigated environmental harm,” Sununu said. But he said the potential for environmental degradation of the marshes was a “non-issue.”

“The waterway that this bill seeks to ‘protect’ does not experience high volumes of traffic from personal water craft,” he said, citing concerns that the bill could have unintended consequences, like preventing people from accessing moorings in the harbor.

In 2019, a similar law banned jet skis from entering the Hampton-Seabrook estuary, sponsored by Rep. Jason Janvrin, a Seabrook Republican. Jet skis – which suck up water into their engine to propel them forward – can harm sensitive marsh ecosystems. While a Fish and Game rule already prohibited jet skis, the law allowed law enforcement to cite offenders.

Seacoast Online reported in 2019 that there was already interest at the time from lawmakers in Rye and New Castle in passing similar bans.

The bill, which was introduced in the House, passed the House on a voice vote, after a unanimous vote in committee in favor of the bill. It also passed the Senate unanimously.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee reported on energy and environment for New Hampshire Bulletin. She also previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.