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Boating fatalities a reminder maritime safety is critical

NSW boaters are urged to take extra care and always wear a lifejacket if they need to be out on the water at the current time, after a number of recent incidents.

Unless you have an essential need to be out - stay home. Socialising or cruising on the water is not a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave your home. 

“Boaters have been asked to stay on dry land due to COVID-19 restrictions but this has been a really testing week on our waterways,” NSW Maritime Acting Executive Director Alex Barrell said.

“We are pleading with people to wear correctly-fitted lifejackets that are in good working order, as well as regularly check the weather forecast before going out and while they’re out,” Mr Barrell said.

A tragic week included the deaths of two men in separate incidents. The body of a man was found near his upturned vessel south of Ulladulla on Thursday and the body a man was recovered on Friday morning after a boat capsized in hazardous conditions at Port Kembla.

A second man was retrieved from the water at Port Kembla and airlifted to hospital.

On Monday, four people who were not wearing lifejackets were rescued at Collaroy after their vessel capsized in large waves.

“At this time of year, conditions from shore may be deceptively calm but powerful ground swells are common on the NSW coast.

“For boaters, this means the current boating conditions are unforgiving and can change quickly. There are dangerous breaking waves at coastal bars, and around reefs and breakwater.

“Since July last year, there have been 22 boating fatalities on NSW waterways, which is a considerable increase compared to the same time last year. If you’re a skipper, the message is clear: know the rules and the conditions you’re going to face – you’re responsible,” Mr Barrell said.

NSW Government advice to boaters in relation to COVID-19 restrictions remain in place:

-  The safest thing to do in the fight against COVID-19 is to stay at home

- Boaters who are out must have a reasonable excuse and observe social distancing rules

NSW Maritime and NSW Police remain out on the water to ensure the safety of essential and commercial waterway users.

The latest advice on boating during COVID-19 can be accessed via the NSW Maritime website: https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/maritime/covid-19-update.html

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