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Boat cops harden up
Maritime New Zealand’s “no excuses” campaign against speeding boaties and those without lifejackets is being unleashed over about five days this summer.
Boaties who break councils’ lifejacket and speed rules will be given infringement notices, which in the Bay of Plenty will be a $200 fine.
The ‘no excuses’ trial will be run for about five days by each council at different times during summer., says Maritime NZ, director Keith Manch.
“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.”
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.”
An incident in Hawke’s Bay earlier last month highlights the trouble people can carelessly get themselves into, says Hawke’s Bay Harbourmaster Martin Moore.
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.
The passenger 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.
Up to two-thirds of recreational boaties who died might have been saved if they wore lifejackets, says Keith.
“Wearing your lifejacket is the single most important thing you can do to avoid drowning if you end up unexpectedly in the water.
“Boaties speeding in congested areas are 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.
“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.”
Both the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the Waikato District Council are taking part.
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