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Safe speed and life jackets in weekend blitz

24 January 2005

Safe speed and life jackets in weekend blitz

Safe speed and life jackets are being targeted in a major water safety blitz in the Bay of Plenty this weekend.

A full force of Environment Bay of Plenty maritime staff and volunteer wardens will patrol the region’s lakes and harbours over Auckland Anniversary Weekend, carrying out spot checks at boat ramps and stopping boats on the water.

Maritime manager Jon Moore says speed will be a key focus because of a recent spate of dangerous activity, mostly by jet skis and boats towing “donuts” or water skiers. “Some people are blatantly disregarding the rules,” he explains. “They are going far too fast in the wrong places, putting swimmers and other water users in danger.”

Mr Moore says signs at boat ramps spell out the speed-related Bay of Plenty Navigation and Safety Bylaws “so there is no excuse for this type of behaviour”.

A five-knot speed limit applies when a boat is within 200m of the shore or within 50m of another vessel, person or mooring. “The regulation is sensible and founded on safety considerations. It protects swimmers, kayakers, sailboarders and others who use the strip of water by the shoreline.”

Another rule is that skippers must have a third person on board when towing. Mr Moore says the extra person then acts as lookout while the skipper concentrates on driving the boat. That way, “everyone stays safe”.

Last year, staff and wardens checked more than 600 boats during Auckland Anniversary Weekend, with the focus on life jackets. They found only two boats without life jackets, which was a great result, Mr Moore says.

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.

ENDS


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