A statewide waterway safety blitz, held this weekend ahead of the Easter holiday, resulted in 37 fines and 90 official warnings.
The Operations Plan, Preparedness and Forecasting Coordinator and NSW Senior Maritime Manager for Greater Sydney, Shane Davey, said that following the recent extreme weather it was positive to see most people – 85% of 863 ship checks – exercise good judgment and demonstrate that they know, understand, and follow the rules.
“The top three violations over the weekend were lack of life jackets accounting for 32% of fines, inadequate safety equipment accounting for 24% and failure to comply with licenses and registration at 22%,” said Mr Davey.
“We want everyone on the water to enjoy a safe and happy Easter holiday, and the best way to ensure that is to follow the rules.
“Massive surf and flood waves have impacted our coastal and river systems over the past few weeks, and extreme weather hazards continue in the water long after skies have cleared and the water levels have dropped.
“We had washed out navigation beacons, collapsed banks and shorelines and sediment and sand shifts due to flooding and extreme surf conditions. All boaters should exercise their best judgment now.
“Significant amounts of flood debris will sit in the water for months. The last thing we want to see is serious injury or death if a boat, water skier or jet ski hits something like a submerged tree at high speed.
Mr Davey said the waterways are currently dangerous and should be navigated with caution.
“Half of all on-water deaths in the past year have occurred in harsh conditions. We need people to plan ahead, prepare their ships and monitor conditions.
“Boaters should check local weather forecasts and marine notifications before setting out, and monitor changes, including weather warnings, during their trip.
Mr Davey said that despite being happy with how most people behaved over the weekend, complacency in lifejackets remains a concern.
“It’s not just something you don on the big seas, even for the smallest trip of a yacht or a houseboat to shore, life jackets save lives, but they can’t help you if you don’t wear it,” Mr Davey said.
Since July 2021, of the 13 deaths on NSW waterways, nine were not wearing life jackets.
Boating Education Managers spoke to over 550 customers over the weekend, providing information and advice on lifejacket care and best practices on the water.
Boaters can find more information on restrictions and closures here: https://www.nsw.gov.au/topics/using-waterways/restrictions-and-closures