Boaties are being warned to take it easy on the water this Labour Weekend which marks the ‘unofficial’ start of the summer holiday season.
A number of agencies have gathered at boat ramps in the Western Bay of Plenty today, offering pleasure-craft boaties information on water safety and local regulations.
Those in attendance will include Tauranga and Maketu Coastguards, Police Search and Rescue, the Harbour Master, and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Western Bay of Plenty Search and Rescue co-ordinator, Sergeant Craig Madden, says the day has been organised due to the high number of fatal marine incidents in the past couple of years.
He says the Western Bay of Plenty has a big influx of holidaymakers, and a large number of them are boaties.
“A number of deaths in and on our waters would have been preventable if a higher level of safety was adhered to.
“All boaties should have at least two different methods of communication with them, and if one is a cell phone it should be in a water-tight package.
“A snap-lock bag is ideal, and you can still use it while it’s in the bag,” he says.
Harbour Master Peter Buell concurs that preparedness is important.
“Kapok life jackets – the older-style life jackets that go over the head – are unsafe, and need to be replaced with a more modern alternative. Along with this jet skis should also be registered.
“Safety information and advice is freely available from the Harbour Master and Coastguard for new and visiting boaties and water-users.
“While on the water you also need two forms of communication, because if you can’t be heard you can’t be helped,” he says.
Simon Baker of Tauranga Coastguard says we all want to see boaties go out and have an enjoyable time on the water, and come home safe at the end of the day.
“We want to remind skippers that when crossing a bar, it’s the skipper’s responsibility to ensure all passengers wear a life jacket, and it’s advisable to log a report with Coastguard before and after crossing the bar.
“Also, lifejackets must be in good condition, fit for purpose, and correctly fitted.
They can often be your last chance of survival if the worst happens,” says Simon.
Boaties are reminded that Coastguard is an organisation run by volunteers and relies on memberships and donations to exist.
Members that need assistance on the water receive it for free, whereas non-members are charged a fee.
MPI Fisheries Officers are also reminding fishers of their catch limits and minimum sizes.
If members of the public see any non-compliance they’re asked to call 0800 4POACHER (0800 476 224).