A statewide waterway safety blitz, held this weekend ahead of the Easter break, has resulted in 37 fines and 90 official warnings.
Operation Plan, Prepare, Predict Coordinator and NSW Maritime Principal Manager for Greater Sydney, Shane Davey said following recent extreme weather, it was positive to see most people -85 per cent of the 863 vessel checks- exercised good judgement and demonstrated they know, understand, and follow the rules.
“The top three offences across the weekend were a lack of life jackets representing 32per cent of fines, inadequate safety equipment accounted for 24 per cent, and licencing and registration non-compliance at 22 per cent,” Mr Davey said.
“We want everyone who is out on the water to enjoy a happy and safe Easter holiday break, and the best way to guarantee this is by following the rules.
“Massive surf and floodwaters have impacted our coast and river systems in recent weeks, and the risks from extreme weather continue in the water long after skies clear and water levels subside.
“We’ve had navigation markers washed away, banks and shorelines collapse and sediment and sand shift due to floods and extreme surf conditions. All boaters need to exercise their best judgement right now.
“Significant amounts of flood debris will linger in the water for months. The last thing we want to see is a serious injury or death if a boat, water-skier, or Jet Ski hits something like a submerged tree at high speed.”
Mr Davey said waterways are currently dangerous and need to be navigated with caution.
“Half of all deaths on the water in the last year occurred in rough conditions. We need people to plan ahead, prepare their vessels and monitor conditions.
“Boaters should check the local weather forecast and marine notifications before heading out, and monitor for changes including weather warnings during their trip.
Mr Davey said despite being happy with the behaviour of most people out over the weekend life jacket complacency remains a concern.
“It’s not just something you slip on in big seas, for even the smallest journey from a yacht or houseboat to shore, life jackets save lives, but they can’t help you if you’re not wearing it,” Mr Davey said.
Since July 2021, of the 13 fatalities on New South Wales waterways, nine were not wearing a life jacket.
Boating Education Officers engaged with more than 550 customers over the weekend, providing information and advice on life jacket servicing and best practice on the water.
Boaters can find more information on restrictions and closures here: https://www.nsw.gov.au/topics/using-waterways/restrictions-and-closures