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Big spike in boating numbers brings important safety message

Thursday, 20 October 2016 11:00 a.m.

Safer Boating Week October 14-21

New research released by Maritime New Zealand this week suggests 51 percent of New Zealanders might have taken to the water in recreational boats last summer (2015-16).

Safer Boating Officer Tony Pearce says this research shows that there are more boaties on the water than ever before and as a result boating safety is increasingly important.

“What this increase means is there are more occasional boaties on the water in a variety of boats, paddleboards and other craft with some not understanding how to be safe, and without the right equipment”, he says.

The recently released research report also indicates that fewer people were reported wearing a lifejacket all the time they were on the water. Those most likely to wear lifejackets were kayakers – 81 percent reported they always wore lifejackets. Least likely to always wear lifejackets were powerboat users – 52 percent – down from 61 percent in 2014. Powerboat users are the second largest group of boaties, 64 percent of whom are male.

“Each year there are usually between 20 and 30 boating fatalities and it’s likely that two-thirds of these fatalities could have been avoided if lifejackets had been worn.  It’s essential that you have sufficient lifejackets of an appropriate size for everyone on board and that boaties, particularly in smaller boats under 6 meters, always wear a lifejacket when they are out on the water”, he says.  

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has for some years had a “no excuses” policy under which people failing to carry the required number of lifejackets on vessels out on the water are fined up to $200. We’ll be carrying on with this approach as part of our support for Maritime NZ’s national initiative.

Link to research report, Summary of Recreational Boating Research Conducted by Research New Zealand

Safer Boating Week, October 14-21

Safer Boating Week is the week before Labour Day weekend, the traditional start of recreational boating in much of the country. The aim is to encourage boaties to take simple steps before getting back on the water: Prep your boat, Check your Gear, Know the rules.

Prep - service the engine, check and change the fuel, check the battery and just generally give the boat a good onceover.

Check - make sure your lifejackets are still fit for purpose and you have enough. Service any inflatable lifejackets and ensure you have two reliable forms of communication equipment.

Know - ensure you know the “rules of the road” on the water, and check your local bylaws to make sure you understand what the requirements are in your area.

For lots of information about what is happening around the country go to Safer Boating NZ Facebook and www.saferboating.org.nz

* Safer Boating Forum
The Forum was established in 2000 to coordinate and implement recreational boating safety initiatives. It is made up of government agencies and local government, water safety and recreational boating organisations, and the marine industry. The Forum’s work is aimed at reducing boating injuries and fatalities and improving boat safety behaviour. Maritime NZ chairs the Forum and members include Coastguard, Jet Boating NZ, Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers, local and central government, NZ Fishing News, NZ Jet Sports Boating Association, NZ Marine Industry Association, NZ Underwater Association, Surf Lifesaving NZ, Waka Ama NZ, Water Safety NZ, WaterSafe Auckland, White Water NZ, and Yachting NZ.

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