A recent multi-agency operation has served nearly 100 enforcement notices on those on the Thames trying to evade the annual fee

Boaters on the River Thames are being urged to renew their registrations or face prosecution.

The reminder comes after an early crackdown in recent weeks on evasion of 2015 annual registration fees along the non-tidal River Thames.

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The Environment Agency alongside the Metropolitan and Surrey Police and Kingston & London Borough of Richmond upon Thames enforcement officers served nearly 100 enforcement notices in a multi-agency operation which targeted Kingston upon Thames then Whitchurch and Purley.

Environment Agency waterways operations manager Nick McKie-Smith said: “All boats kept on the river must display a valid annual registration plate at all times.

“We are turning the heat up early on annual registration. Why risk prosecution and a possible criminal conviction? If your annual 2015 boat registration fee is still due, register or remove your boat from the river.”

The income raised from boat registration fees helps to pay for the upkeep of the entire non-tidal navigation between Teddington and Lechlade, a length of 144 miles, including 45 locks.

“The Thames is the oldest and most famous public navigation in the world, and we need every penny of registration income that we are due to keep it in the best condition possible. Our crackdown on non-registration will continue throughout the boating season”, he said.

Ensuring public safety is also another reason for regulation and enforcement.

Waterways staff undertake registration checks and enforcement out on the river and at lock-sides to ensure that boats hold the additional legal requirements for a valid boat safety certificate and a minimum third party insurance policy.

“Just like a car, a boat needs to be licensed, insured and have the boat-equivalent of an MOT which is a valid Boat Safety Certificate or ‘BSC’ – before it can be kept on the river. This is to minimise the risks of accidents such as boat fires, explosions, carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide poisoning onboard and polluting substances entering the water and harming the environment. We want to ensure all our customers to enjoy the river as a safe environment”, Mr McKie Smith added.