Recreational boaties on the water, who are not wearing lifejackets or travelling at a safe speed, should expect to be questioned by harbourmasters and Maritime NZ as the annual No Excuses on-water compliance campaign gets underway.
The campaign, which runs from 23 October to 31 March next year, encourages boaties to wear lifejackets and travel at a safe speed. Fines of up to $300 are able to be handed out to boaties for breaches of regional council bylaws and national maritime rules.
Baz Kirk, Maritime NZ Manager Sector Engagement and Collaboration, said last weekend’s tragedy at the Manukau Bar is a tragic reminder about the inherent dangers of recreational boating.
“Data from the last five years of the campaign shows that on average 95% of boats have lifejackets on board. However, the number of lifejackets being worn, when legally required, decreased from 89% to 80% which is concerning.
“No matter the conditions, boaties should wear a life jacket at all times. It can make the difference between life or death,” said Mr Kirk.
No Excuses began in the summer of 2016 with Maritime NZ and eight councils. This has increased to 18 partners in 2021.
Amanda Kerr, Nelson Maritime Officer, Maritime NZ, said the campaign is a great opportunity to connect with boaties and remind them of the essentials.
“We know 98 lives were lost on the water over the last six years of which 55% could have been prevented if life jackets were worn. The majority of those who died ended up in the water from falling overboard, the vessel capsizing or being swamped,” said Ms Kerr.
The No Excuses campaign will run for five random days in each region over the summer season. This will not be publicised. In addition, harbourmasters will be out on the water constantly checking on boaties to ensure they are wearing life jackets and travelling at safe speeds.
“We want everybody to have a great summer on the water,” said Ms Kerr.
“While the majority enjoy themselves by staying safe, wearing well-fitted lifejackets and sticking to the speed limits, there will be no excuses for those boaties who break the rules or put themselves and others at risk.”
Summary of boating by the numbers
- 2 million Kiwis were involved in recreational boating last summer
- Lifejacket wearing behaviour amongst recreational boaties is steady at about 75% wearing all or most of the time on the water.
- 60% of boats approached carried multiple communication devices.
- 60% of boats approached carried VHF communication devices.
- 55% of those who die in recreational boating accidents each year could be saved if they wear a lifejacket.