The first statewide waterway safety blitz of 2023 kicked off on the weekend, targeting personal watercraft users including jetskiers, resulting in 12 fines and 48 official warnings based on around 650 inspections.
Acting NSW Maritime Executive Director Hendrik Clasie said with over a month still left of summer, the two-day Operation Ride Smart campaign was about driving home important safety messages. “We love to see locals and holidaymakers enjoying our state’s waterways, but people need to be aware they are in a different condition following months of severe rainfall and flooding. We’re seeing more debris and unseen hazards, including entire trees,” Mr Clasie said. “Since the start of the boating season on 1 October 2022, across NSW we’ve recorded more than 120 incidents including a boat fire, boats capsizing, collisions and multiple water rescues where serious injuries were reported. Tragically, there have also been four boating-related fatalities. “Our Boating Safety Officers have a critical job to do. From the Northern Rivers to the South Coast, to the Murray River down at the Victorian border, NSW Maritime has been out conducting compliance checks and helping to keep people safe.”
Mr Clasie said jetskis have surged in popularity across NSW which means there are a lot of new and inexperienced riders on the water.
“We’ve seen a massive jump in the number of licenses in the last two years. We want all riders to remember the three C’s – care, courtesy and common sense, especially when there are swimmers, surfers or paddleboarders around,” Mr Clasie said.
“Jetskis are heavily overrepresented in serious boating incidents and complaints. The top three offences across the weekend were unlicenced operation of a jetski, irregular riding, and not cooperating with NSW Maritime compliance checks.
“The top areas for jetski offences over the weekend campaign were the Georges River with eight, the Upper Hawkesbury River with six, and Lake Macquarie with five.”
There are currently more than 82,000 licenced riders in NSW, and nearly 20,000 personal watercraft registered in the state.
NSW Maritime Officers conducted compliance checks on nearly 2200 recreational vessels including jetskis during the two-day campaign resulting in a total of 78 fines and 236 official warnings. Licensing and registration breaches were the top offence with 92, followed by not wearing or carrying a suitable lifejacket with 89.
The top spots for offences were Lake Macquarie with 33, the South Coast around Sussex Inlet and Lake Conjola with 20, and the Upper Hawkesbury River with 18.
NSW Maritime joint patrols with NSW Police also conducted around 50 random breath tests over the weekend.
All waterway users are reminded of the importance of wearing a lifejacket.
Information on PWC rules and restrictions can be found here: Personal Watercraft (PWC) Handbook | NSW Government.