A record low - four boating fatalities in 2018

11 January 2019

Maritime NZ is thanking boaties for taking their safety seriously in 2018 after a record low number of four fatalities last year.

Maritime NZ Director, Keith Manch, said each year about 19 or 20 recreational boaties die on the water, with there being a sudden spike in fatal accidents at the end of the year.

“Even one loss of life is too many but we are pleased to see that the majority of boaties are taking notice of our advice that ‘nothing’s faster than disaster’ and are taking the necessary precautions when out on the water,” said Maritime NZ acting Director Harry Hawthorn.

“2018’s total of four is low when you compare it with the 19 fatalities in 2017 and the historical average of 19 to 20 each year.

“Despite this record, Maritime NZ will continue to put maritime safety in the spotlight. There have been reports of several close calls over the holiday period and as recently as Monday evening, a fisherman lost his life after failing to return from a fishing trip on a small dinghy.

“Maritime NZ, in partnership with the Safer Boating Forum, will continue to promote safety so that the Safer Boating Code becomes second nature to every single boatie when they prepare to head out on the water,” said Mr Hawthorn.

The Safer Boating Code reminds boaties to:

  • Wear a lifejacket
  • Take two waterproof ways to call for help
  • Check the marine weather forecast
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Be a responsible skipper

“Our 2018 survey shows that a decade of work by the Forum in promoting safer boating is paying off. Of the 1.5 million New Zealanders that participate in recreational boating, 75% wear lifejackets all or most of the time on the water.

“Wearing your lifejacket is the single most important thing you can do to avoid drowning if you end up in the water unexpectedly. We need to keep reminding everyone or people will become complacent and the numbers of those wearing lifejackets will drop.”

The summer period is statistically a time which sees a greater number of recreational boating fatalities. In an effort to avoid further fatalities, the Forum is currently running a number of nationwide safety campaigns. This includes the Coastguard’s annual ‘Old4New’ lifejacket upgrade programme and a Maritime NZ multi-media campaign to remind boaties that ‘if we can’t hear you, we can’t help you’ and to take a VHF radio as at least one form of waterproof communication at sea.

Maritime NZ Maritime Officers and other Forum members are out providing safety advice to boaties around the country and running ‘No Excuses’ enforcement campaigns along with a number of local council Harbourmasters. This campaign takes a ‘No Excuses’ approach to boaties not carrying lifejackets or travelling at unsafe speeds. Boaties failing to comply with any national rule or their council’s bylaws will face the consequences and can be subject to receiving infringement notices of up to $300.

Notes for the editor

Maritime NZ’s reporting period follows the calendar year.

In 2017 there were 19 fatalities compared with 13 in 2016, and 24 in 2015.

The Safer Boating Forum is a formal network of boating organisations, the marine industry and central and local government.

Useful links for boaties

VHF radio – lots of information and watch the new ad www.maritimenz.govt.nz/vhf

Coastguard Boating Education – learn all about boating www.boatingeducation.org.nz/courses

Lifejackets – what’s good and what’s not www.maritimenz.gvot.nz/lifejackets

Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade – where and when, all you need to know www.old4new.nz

Metservice Marine Forecast - www.metservice.com (look for the Marine & Surf tab)

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