Spotlight on Sydney boaters during Operation Safe Return

3 Augsut 2020

NSW Maritime was out in force this past weekend as part of a boating safety operation following a spate of boating fatalities in July.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said Operation Safe Return was carried out on offshore waters from sunrise on Saturday 1 August to sundown on Sunday 2 August, across Sydney from Norah Head to Port Kembla.

“We are putting the spotlight on boating safety after four lives were tragically lost while boating in just one weekend at the start of July,” Mr Constance said.

“Over the weekend we conducted 508 on-water safety inspections with 25 penalty notices issued and 42 official cautions given out, mostly around not enough life jackets on board, failure to wear lifejackets or not carrying the correct safety equipment.

“Earlier this month, three men onboard a 5.8 metre boat off La Perouse sadly failed to make it home to their families after setting out to do some fishing not far from shore that weekend. This tragic incident may have unfolded differently if the men had been wearing lifejackets or had delayed their trip due to rough seas.”

Seventeen NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers were on the water checking boaters were properly equipped for offshore boating and understanding the importance of checking the weather as part of Operation Safe Return. This campaign is in addition to regular on-water patrols from NSW Police’s Marine Area Command.

Mr Constance said this operation is a stark reminder to boaters that winter poses more risks, with shorter days, less light and colder water.

“Despite the ten-year long-term downward trend in boating fatalities, 25 lives were lost in boating-related incidents in NSW during 2019-20 compared to 11 fatalities in 2018-19,” Mr Constance said.

“This should remind us all of the importance of keeping safety top-of-mind while we engage in our favourite on-water activities.”

NSW Maritime A/ Executive Director Alex Barrell  said cold water is a significant factor in boating fatalities and serious injuries in NSW, with almost 30 per cent of fatalities in the last 10 years linked to cold water.

“If you fall into cold water, cold shock can set in very quickly and you’re at serious risk of hypothermia, or dangerously low body temperature. Wearing a lifejacket can save your life by giving you precious time to act,” Mr Barrell said.

All vessel operators must comply with offshore safety equipment requirements, which includes carrying, maintaining and checking EPIRBs, flares and torches.

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