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Boaties, fishos, sailors and paddlers in the national spotlight

The two million people who head out on the water each year in NSW are being reminded of ways to stay safe when boating through a new co-ordinated initiative.

The first ever National Safe Boating Week kicks off today with one simple message.

“We want people to stop and think about what else could be done to improve their safety before and during every trip on a boat,” Transport for NSW Deputy Secretary Safety, Environment and Regulation Tara McCarthy said.

“To the boaties, fishos, sailors and paddlers out there, as well as those who are just along for the ride, we all have a responsibility to be smarter about safety on the water.”

National Safe Boating Week, which runs until 2 October, is a collaborative initiative developed by maritime agencies across Australia, including the NSW Government, Boating Industry Association and volunteer marine rescue services.

“Our data shows that not wearing a lifejacket and not making considered judgements about weather conditions are some of the top reasons people get into trouble out on the water,” Ms McCarthy said.

“The solution is pretty simple – wearing a lifejacket at all times and checking weather forecasts both before and during trips out on the water could save your life.”

The week culminates with ‘Wear a Lifejacket to Work Day’ on Friday 2 October, encouraging all boaties to wear their most essential piece of safety equipment during work hours.

“Wearing a lifejacket never ruined a day at work – or a day out on the water,” she said.

“The serious side to this message is that despite a long-term downward trend in boating fatalities, 25 lives were lost in NSW during boating-related incidents in 2019-20. This is in contrast to the 11 fatalities recorded during the previous financial year.

“We are working towards zero fatalities and serious injuries on NSW waterways by 2056.”

Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos said the service’s volunteers were ready for what was likely to be one of the busiest boating summers yet on NSW waterways.

“With travel further afield unlikely because of COVID-19, we expect more people than ever to head for the coastline and enjoy a boating holiday here at home,” he said.

“Everyone planning to go boating this summer should take the time now to check their boat and safety gear, including their lifejackets and marine radio, are in good condition.

“We urge all boaters to Log On with Marine Rescue NSW when they’re heading out. It’s quick, simple and free. Tell us where you’re going, how many people are on board and when you’re expecting to return and our volunteers will keep watch.

“If something goes wrong and you haven’t Logged Off as planned, our volunteers will start to search for you to bring you safely back to shore.”

The inaugural National Boating Safety Week continues until Friday 2 October.

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