‘No excuses’ fines for no lifejackets and speeding start

22 December 2016

A trial “no excuses” policy for recreational boaties not carrying or wearing lifejackets and those who speed on the water is getting underway.

The Director of Maritime NZ, Keith Manch, said boaties who break councils’ lifejacket and speed rules will be given infringement notices of up to $300, depending on each council’s existing bylaws.

The ‘no excuses’ trial will be run for about five days by each council at different times during summer. After summer, the trial will be reviewed and decisions made about whether it will be extended in future.

“We are focusing on boaties who do not carry or wear lifejackets (as required by the Maritime Transport Act and Regional Council bylaws) and also unsafe speed because they are two of the biggest risks of death and injury,” Mr Manch said.

Hawkes Bay Harbour Master, Martin Moore, said an incident earlier this month highlights the trouble people can carelessly get themselves into.

A power boat had three people on board. The two passengers were wearing lifejackets but the skipper was not. One of the passengers, who could not swim and was afraid of the water, got onto a “biscuit” that was towed by the boat. They fell off the biscuit and panicked. The skipper jumped in to help but the passenger left on board did not know how to drive the boat. High winds began to blow the boat away from the people in the water and out to sea. The skipper and the passenger who had fallen off the biscuit were struggling in the water. By good luck, two cray fishermen saw them, came to the rescue, and also helped retrieve the boat.

Police and the Harbour Master’s Office are now involved and further action is possible.

Mr Manch said New Zealand’s tragic statistics are that up to two-thirds of recreational boaties who died might have been saved if they wore lifejackets.

“Wearing your lifejacket is the single most important thing you can do to avoid drowning if you end up unexpectedly in the water,” he said.

“Boaties speeding in congested areas is dangerous and can cause injuries to children, swimmers, divers and people in small craft. There is a five knot speed limit when you are near the shore, swimmers, divers and other boats.

“Each regional council will be letting boaties know in their communities that enforcement action will happen sometime during summer. The specific days when this action will occur will not be publicised. Our expectation is that safe boaties follow the requirements each and every time they go on the water.

“For Maritime NZ it is an important addition to the mix of education and promotional activities that we traditionally use to encourage safer boating.

“The intention is to deter those boaties who do not prioritize safety and choose to break the rules. Our aim is to reduce boating fatalities and injuries.”

The trial is funded by Maritime NZ and the councils taking part are:

Council Contact
Northland Regional Council Jim Lyle, Regional Harbourmaster
(09) 402 7516 jiml@nrc.govt.nz
Bay of Plenty Regional Council For general Maritime queries contact the Duty Harbourmaster on
0800 5 KNOTS (556 687)
For media queries contact Jess Somerville 021 923 339
Waikato Regional Council Wendy Valois on 021 369 815,
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Harbourmaster Martin Moore
027 445 5592
Tasman District Council Harbourmaster Dan Cairney,
03 543 8400
Nelson City Council Harbour Master, Dave Duncan
027 443 6165
Marlborough District Council harbours@marlborough.govt.nz
03 520 7400
Canterbury Regional Council Gary Manch
027 436 0134


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