Boaters are being urged to take extra care this long weekend following a fatality on the south coast and several serious incidents over the past week. Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said there have been nine boating deaths this year, with almost 90 per cent happening in regional areas and weather conditions a factor in the majority of incidents.
“Over two million people go boating across NSW each year, and when ideal weather conditions align with a long weekend, we see a significant increase of people on our waterways” Mrs Pavey said. “Too often, the tragic loss of life on our waterways is preventable and I ask everyone hitting the water this long weekend to put safety first.
Mrs Pavey said “It’s a tragic fact, but we need to remember that 80 per cent of people who drown while boating were not wearing a lifejacket.
“Skippers must remember they are responsible for the safety of their vessel and all those on board, and lifejackets are a must.”The warning comes after a 13-year-old girl died after a vessel capsized at Moruya last Saturday with five people on board.A man suffered serious injuries the following day when he was struck by the propeller of a powerboat at Port Hacking.“While fatalities on our waterways remain under the long-term average of 15 for NSW, we have seen an increase when compared with last year’s total of four.
The NSW Government is committed to a new Maritime Safety Plan aimed at reducing fatalities and serious injuries by 30% by 2021 and moving toward zero by 2056.
Priorities under the Maritime Safety Plan include:
· Wear a lifejacket, especially in runabouts and smaller craft;
· Check the weather and be prepared to change plans if conditions are unfavourable;
· Keep to a safe speed and distance clear of other vessels, obstructions and people in the water;
· The skipper must keep under the 0.05 blood alcohol limit.
Raising the lifejacket wear rate from nine per cent 10 years ago, to 45 per cent has been a pleasing result, but clearly there is more to do. RMS and Marine Area Command (NSW Police) patrols will be out on our waterways this long weekend. “Easter is the perfect time to get away and make the most of our beautiful State, but the message is simple whether on our roads or waterways – one life lost is one too many and safety is everyone’s responsibility, Mrs Pavey said.