Waterways warning - don't skip safety

22 January 2021

Residents and tourists are being urged to stay safe when heading out on the water after a recent spike in maritime incidents across NSW.Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said authorities were particularly concerned ahead of another weekend of warm weather, dangerous surf conditions and the Australia Day public holiday.

“Since the start of the COVID pandemic we’ve seen an increase in boating licences and people heading out to enjoy time on the water. But what is really concerning is there has also been an increase in the number of incidents, with a disturbing spike in the second half of 2020,” Mr Constance said.

“We’re about to head into some really warm summer weather combined with hazardous swells, the end of school holidays and the Australia Day public holiday. I am urgently reminding everyone to take the necessary safety measures to ensure a fun day out doesn’t end in tragedy.

“In the past six months, we’ve lost nine lives on our waterways, including two this year. I can’t stress enough how crucial it is for boaters to know and follow the rules which exist to keep us all safe.

“Our records show there are several hundred additional NSW boat licence holders compared to last year. We’ve also seen a further 1500 boats registered. That’s a lot of new boaters. We are urging all skippers, new or more experienced, to review their own knowledge of the basics before they launch from the local boat ramp or push off from their mooring or marina.”

Transport for NSW Acting Chief Operations Officer Mark Hutchings said NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers will be patrolling all navigable waterways and providing assistance and advice to those on the water.

“We want everyone to stay safe over these next few days. Please ensure you wear a lifejacket, check the weather and know how to use all of your safety equipment. Also log on and off with Marine Rescue NSW so they know where you are going and when you will be back each and every time you head out on the water.”

“We’re expecting dangerous surf conditions to continue into the weekend, which can easily become hazardous for rock fishing and vessels crossing coastal bars, so we need people to be extra vigilant.

“This isn’t just a warning for those heading out to sea. Our rivers, lakes and estuaries can also be dangerous, and even deadly, so it’s necessary that everyone follows the safety requirements,” Mr Hutchings said.

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