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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Waterway blitz shows lifejacket use and speed remain issues on NSW waterways

Last weekend’s statewide waterway safety blitz resulted in 66 fines for boaters and jet ski riders breaking the law, with a non-compliance rate of about one in ten checked. South Coast

171 inspections

3 penalty notices (top 3 were speeding on a jet ski, unlicensed use of jet ski, operating as master of a jet ski without a licence)

15 official cautions (top 3 were not carrying or maintaining  a lifejacket, operating an unregistered vessel and nor wearing a lifejacket alone or with  a child under 12)

86% compliance rate


Mr Alex Barrell, A/Executive Director, NSW Maritime said the good news is the vast majority of boaters – about 88 per cent -  showed they know, understand and follow the rules which exist to keep everyone safe on NSW waterways.

“The top three types of fines issued were for not carrying the required number of lifejackets, not wearing lifejackets and speeding.”

There were 170 cautions issued over the weekend, including 27 for failing to maintain important safety equipment and 22 for operating an unregistered vessel.

“If you’re doing the wrong thing, you will get caught, and if it’s not next week it will be the week after,” he said.

NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers carried out the statewide compliance blitz with a focus on reducing the number of serious incidents on our waterways.

Mr Barrell said while the average number of boating-related fatalities has fallen over the past five years, boating fatalities have actually increased in the year since July 1, 2019.

“While conditions such as bad weather and rough seas have played a part in a number of these fatalities, many of the people who lost their lives on NSW waterways this boating season were either not wearing a lifejacket or weren’t keeping a proper lookout.

“Our message to boaters is to have fun but always keep safety top-of-mind when heading out on the water. Always wear a lifejacket, always keep a proper lookout and check the weather before and during the trip. Weather can change quickly and conditions can turn dangerous for boaters.

“Wearing a lifejacket while you’re on the water is the best thing you can do to stay safe.”

Education officers joined on-water officers to target boat ramps across NSW to educate boaters about on-water behaviour, lifejacket requirements, speed and vessel safety.

During the weekend, 67 Boating Safety Officers carried out more than 1,825 random safety checks from Tweed Heads on the north coast and south to the Victorian border, and along inland lakes and waterways including the entire Murray River.

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