No Excuses on-water boating safety campaign hits record high 18 March

Maritime NZ’s No Excuses on-water compliance campaign has reached new heights, with a record-breaking 4,208 on-water interactions with boaties to drive a safer boating culture.

The increased on-water interactions have also resulted in encouraging signs of increased compliance with key safety messages, including greater carriage and wearing of lifejackets, says Sharyn Forsyth, Maritime NZ Deputy Director and Chair of the Safer Boating Forum.

Overall, the campaign data shows the number of lifejackets being carried on board increased slightly from 95 percent to 97 percent.

The number of lifejackets being worn when legally required increased from 83 percent to 87 percent over the previous year, with an increase in wearing on powerboats (99 percent) being the largest driver.

“The campaign has come a long way since it was introduced four years ago”, she says.

“We started No Excuses with eight regional councils. Now we’ve got 18 councils and harbourmasters involved and we’re interacting with more boaties than ever. In this last campaign, we saw an additional 2,695 interactions compared with the inaugural 2016/17 campaign. Full credit to harbourmasters across the country – they are doing a great job.”

The campaign saw harbourmasters from across New Zealand joining forces with Maritime NZ staff to check boaties’ compliance with the boat code safety rules and local bylaws including lifejacket wearing and safe speed.

While harbourmasters also chalked up a 13 percent increase in interactions – 552 boaties – over the previous year, they issued fewer fines for safety breaches, with 134 infringement notices – including fines of up to $300. This compares to 182 infringement notices the previous year.

Common reasons for infringements included: boaties not carrying lifejackets onboard, or failing to wear them when required; not displaying a dive flag when they had divers in the water; and not having observers when towing.

In the last campaign, No Excuses days took place for the first time in Buller, Gisborne and the Manawatu.

“As a new harbourmaster I was really pleased to join the Safer Boating No Excuses campaign”, says Curly James, Harbourmaster in Westport, Buller.

“With having a bar entrance to our harbour navigation is always going to be that little bit more difficult. We had a great result with nearly 100% compliance. After 45 years of fishing boat experience myself, I think it’s never too late to learn something new from a programme like this.”

Gary Manch, Navigation Safety Officer for the Canterbury Regional Harbourmaster who was also involved in the campaign says having a national, common compliance approach to regulation is the way to go to get results.

“I’m keen for all boaties to display the good behaviour that boaties in Canterbury displayed. This is a national approach and a high standard of conduct is expected on the water at all times throughout New Zealand. Wherever you are, safety is paramount”, he says.

Looking at the results from our last campaign, it is heartening to see high numbers of Kiwis following safe boating behaviours but, as summer approaches, there is no time for complacency, Ms Forsyth said, particularly as more and more people typically head out onto the water.

“As national and local body regulators we need to balance our approach using a diverse range of compliance interventions, including education and enforcement. As part of our work to ensure safer boating, we are continually looking at what we can do to improve safe behaviour through awareness and education, to avoid the need for infringements. However, there will be consequences for people breaching maritime rules and local bylaws. It’s part of the total compliance toolbox that we use,” she adds.

“No Excuses is a massive team effort spanning New Zealand. We are gearing up to be back on the water from mid-October with the No Excuses campaign working with our council partners to ensure everyone is following the rules. There is no excuse for not doing what is right to keep everyone safe on the water.”

Planning is underway for this summer’s campaign, which will see harbourmasters and Maritime NZ maritime officers on the water for extra days to reach even more boaties. The expanded campaign kicks off in October.

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