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Blitz on life jackets in Tauranga harbour

MEDIA RELEASE


CAPTION: Life jacket blitz: You’ll be seeing Environment Bay of Plenty patrol boats out on the water this weekend.

Blitz on life jackets in Tauranga harbour

For immediate release: Monday 19 January 2004

Environment Bay of Plenty is carrying out a blitz on life jackets in the western Bay of Plenty, starting this Anniversary Weekend.

Maritime staff and volunteer wardens have planned an intense schedule of spot checks on boats at key ramps in Tauranga harbour over the next few weeks. They will also be stopping vessels on the water.

The regional council’s maritime manager Jon Moore says the focus will be on making sure boats have the correct number and sizes of life jackets for those on board. Instant fines of up to $200 are likely to be imposed on skippers found breaching the by-law, he warns.

However, he says the vast majority of boaties are “really very good” about carrying life jackets. He has dealt with few incidents of non-compliance so far this summer and wants to congratulate skippers for “being so responsible”.

A lot of children were now wearing life jackets all the time on the water as well, he says. “It’s just like making sure your kids have their seatbelts on in the car.”

“Unfortunately, though, there are still a few people who are not doing the right thing and are putting their passengers at risk. Sometimes I see larger vessels with 10 or 15 people on board - and they may not always be carrying enough life jackets to go around.”

He also notes that tenders must carry life jackets when used to transport passengers from shore to boat. “Such a small boat can be knocked over by a wave in an instant – and suddenly everyone’s in the water.”

Mr Moore says it is important that passengers are told where life jackets are kept so they can access them quickly. “It’s no good waiting until an emergency happens. By then, it may be too late.”

Regional navigation and safety bylaws state that all pleasure craft must carry life jackets of the appropriate size for every person on board. They must be worn when there is danger or a risk to safety, such as when seas are rough, during bad weather and in poor visibility.

Since 2002, Environment Bay of Plenty has been able to impose instant fines if boaties do not follow navigation and safety rules on life jackets. About 30 violations, including speeding and not carrying life jackets, are now liable for instant fines, with a maximum of $100 for behavioural offences and $200 for safety infringements.

An updated booklet of the Bay of Plenty Regional Navigation and Safety Bylaws is available from Environment Bay of Plenty on 0800 ENV BOP (368 267). There are also Harbour Guides for Tauranga Harbour, Maketu and Little Waihi estuaries, the Kaituna River, Whakatane and Ohiwa Harbours and the Waioeka and Rangitaiki Rivers.

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