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Water safety blitz at Anniversary Weekend

Water safety blitz at Anniversary Weekend

18 January 2006

Environment Bay of Plenty will carry out a water safety blitz over Anniversary Weekend.

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Safe speed and life jackets are being targeted in a major water safety blitz in the Bay of Plenty over Auckland Anniversary Weekend (January 28 to 31).

A full force of Environment Bay of Plenty and Maritime New Zealand staff and volunteers will patrol the region’s lakes and harbours, carrying out spot checks at boat ramps and stopping boats on the water.

Environment Bay of Plenty maritime manager Jon Moore says a similar exercise last year was very successful, with more than 600 boats inspected in Tauranga harbour alone. “We think it’s a great way to educate skippers and to raise awareness generally. It is also necessary to constantly remind people they have a serious responsibility when they go out on the water. You don’t always get a second chance if you’re careless.”

The team will give out information packs with copies of the latest harbour and lake guides plus an easy-to-understand summary of the regional navigation and safety bylaws. “These are very useful and, really, all skippers should have them.” They are also available from all Environment Bay of Plenty offices, he adds.

Speed will be a key focus of the blitz again this year. Some people are still going too fast in the wrong places, putting swimmers and other water users at risk, Mr Moore explains. 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.”

The team will also check boats for life jackets though Mr Moore says skippers seem to have picked up that message. “With very few exceptions, the boats we inspect are carrying enough life jackets for everyone, which is great.”

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 is also a Rotorua lakes guide and 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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