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Summer boating safety less than desirable

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday April 19, 2013

Summer boating safety less than desirable

The prolonged summer sunshine saw high levels of boating activity throughout Canterbury right through until Easter, particularly at Kaikoura and Akaroa. Yet, as more and more people have taken to the water, boaties still seem slow to appreciate the dangers.

Environment Canterbury’s recreational boating officer Evan Walker is concerned at the number of incidents on the water and the reluctance on the part of many watercraft users to wear lifejackets.

“The rules are not there to put a dampener on boating; they are in place for everyone’s safety. Unless watercraft users take more heed of safety and learn the rules of the water, increased regulation will become inevitable,” says Mr Walker.

Extra boating safety patrols were employed by Environment Canterbury at Kaikoura during the Easter period to drive home the lifejacket- wearing message.

“This followed the successful joint operation with police at Waitaki Lakes over the Christmas-NewYear period. It was a great initiative by the police to get the boating message out,” said Mr Walker, “and one which we hope to repeat and extend to other areas in the future.”

There was also an increase in the number of jet skis, particularly at the Waitaki Lakes, noted this summer. Jet ski operators are urged to remember that their skis are defined as power craft and they have exactly the same obligations as any other powered boat, which means sticking to the basic rules of the water.

“A number of under-age drivers of jet skis were reported over the summer and there were instances of boaties operating at high speeds close to divers. Warning notices of offences were handed out at a number of places and a number of incidents are being reviewed for potential fines.

The irresponsible behaviour has brought this warning from Mr Walker: “Boating is a huge pleasure and one of the last great ‘free’ activities in New Zealand but it is in the hands of boaties what future rules are imposed, nationally and in the regions. If there continues to be a string of incidents and accidents, it is more likely that there will be increased regulation.

“I urge all boaties to take the time to learn the rules of the water, particularly the give way rules. If you can’t do a Coastguard course, get on line and read the advice available from Maritime New Zealand and regional councils. Everyone would enjoy their boating more if they knew what to do in any given situation and, even better, could rely on all others on the water to also do the right thing.”

ENDS


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