Kaikoura boaties will have more than whales to look out for this Thursday and Friday. Staff from Environment Canterbury and Maritime NZ will be on NZ Police launch Lady Elizabeth IV off the Kaikoura coast checking boaties’ lifejacket wearing and safe speed.
No Excuses targets these high-risk factors in recreational boating fatalities says the lead Maritime Officer for the project, Matt Wood.
The nationwide campaign run by Maritime NZ, 13 councils and the Taupo Harbourmaster, can result in infringement notices of up to $300, depending on each council’s bylaws. Each council will conduct ‘No Excuses’ over five days until 31 March 2019.
Gary Manch, Environment Canterbury’s Navigational Safety Officer says the team want to see boaties acting and behaving safely so no-one gets hurt.
“It’s a tragedy for anyone pulling bodies out of the water,” he said.
Mr Manch says many boaties are conscientious and already follow safe boating practices.
“Our surveys show around 80-90% of Canterbury boaties wear lifejackets - a high number since the national average is 75 per cent. We’ve got to keep reminding people or that number will drop.”
He emphasises the importance of boaties checking their gear too.
“You need to wear your lifejacket AND check it too - especially with inflatables. You might be as careful as anyone else, but make sure your jacket’s the right fit and will inflate if you hit the water.”
Environment Canterbury has previously done ‘No Excuses’ checks at Lake Benmore, the Ruataniwha dam and boat ramps with more days planned. The biggest issue the team has found so far is lack of knowledge of the rules, in particular around speed.
Mr Wood says people need to know and comply with the Maritime Rules and bylaws that already exist.
“We want people to fully understand their responsibilities as safe skippers and that action will be taken if they don’t comply.”
There are laws that guide boaties’ behaviour around speed and lifejackets, but a third of people who die in recreational boating incidents aren’t wearing lifejackets, he says.
Mr Wood says NZ Police’s boat is a fantastic resource for ‘No Excuses’.
“When we combine our resources, we can achieve more. We have a shared interest in keeping boaties safe on the water. For these two days, we’re one big team working together when it comes to keeping people safe on the water.”