A SPEARFISHER has spoken of his fears of being run over by a jet ski after a narrow miss.

Byron Ben Sellem, 26, was fishing near Brighton Palace Pier when he came close to being hit.

Panicked Mr Ben Sellem – a keen spearfisher – had to keep his nerve for about 20 minutes as a group of jet skiers went past the swimming buoys and began driving the crafts underneath the pier.

Although he had a bright orange float to signal his presence in the water, he was worried about how close the jet skis came.

He said he desperately attempted to get their attention.

“I finished work and went down the beach with all my gear, it was lovely, calm and relaxed,” he said.

“When I put my head in the water I could hear the jet skis bombing around and my heart started going – I thought ‘oh no’.

“It was like the group were showing off and I was in the water thinking ‘please see me, please see me’.

“At this point I was racking my brain to think that if I make a move is it going to be the right or wrong one.”

He said one jet ski then came within yards of hitting him in a moment which was caught on camera by worried friends on the beach.

“I was so close and I was caught in the wake and struggled to swim away from it,” he said.

“We’re all in it together in the sea and I’m sure if I was in trouble one of them would have my back and that’s reassuring.

“But I think there needs to be better education. It is great thing that they’re passionate about using the sea, but they need to take extra care and know there are other users.

“We are so lucky to have the sea that we have here, let’s make it nicer for everyone who uses it.”

Jet skis can be hired but some are privately owned.

Sebastian Rouse is director of Lagoon Watersports and has been working in the role for 25 years.

He thought the jet skis in this instance were privately owned and he is calling for greater education around their dangers.

He said: “In the UK we don’t have a requirement to have a licence to operate a boat, power boats, or jet skis.

“I also operate a centre in Spain and they do have mandatory licences there and I know some marinas insist on having a PWC licence (jet ski licence) to rent moorings.

“However, the answer is education, not legislation.

“The rules are clear that no boat can go under the pier – this is fairly well known – and don’t go beyond the buoys.

“The huge thing in the boating world is awareness of other water usage.

“This is stuff that’s very basic, either they are being ignorant, or just ignoring.”

Mr Rouse runs educational courses for people who want to learn how to safely use their jet skis.

“We are very keen to educate people around safety, the beach is very busy at the moment and we all want to enjoy it,” he said.

Brighton and Hove City Council thanked Mr Ben Sellem for sharing his story with The Argus and “bringing to light the dangers that jet ski users pose both to other water users and marine life too”.

A spokesman said: “We were unaware of this particular incident, but sadly we are not surprised as our seafront officers and beach lifeguards deal with dozens of reports, incidents and near-misses each year. We regularly see jet skis entering the 200-metre buoyed swim areas travelling at speed and many seem unaware of the presence of boating lanes (where motorised craft are permitted to anchor but not come ashore) or what the different buoys mean.

“The permitted speed within the boating lanes is five nautical miles per hour. The permitted speed up to 400m offshore (so 200m south of the 200m buoy line) is ten nautical miles per hour.

“Motorised craft other than the RNLI or the lifeguard patrol boat are not permitted to pass beneath the Palace Pier. Sunlight, glare and sea surface conditions are constantly changing and it can be very difficult to spot a swimmer’s head at short notice when travelling at speed. We advise swimmers to wear a brightly coloured swim hat. Those diving or spearfishing should use a brightly coloured surface marker.

“At this time of year we urge swimmers to be particularly aware of jet skis when out on the water, as the buoys will soon be removed for winter maintenance and storage.

“Jet skis are also a hazard to marine life and cause disturbance and harassment to cetaceans and seals and riders have a duty of care and an ecological responsibility to respect all marine life in their natural habitat and keep a safe distance at all times.

“Reckless behaviour concerning jet skis can be reported to the Seafront Office via seafrontoffice@brighton-hove.gov.uk

“Any incidents will be followed up with the jet ski facilities at Brighton Marina or Shoreham Port, and with the Coastguard if needed.”

The Argus has passed the video footage to the council.