Maritime NZ to trial ‘no excuses’ policy for boaties

Maritime NZ and regional councils have announced eight councils will be trialling a ‘no excuses’ policy for recreational boaties not carrying or wearing lifejackets and those who speed on the water. 

The trial will be run for about five days by each council at different times during summer. After summer, the trial will be reviewed and decisions made about whether it will be extended in future.

The Director of Maritime NZ, Keith Manch, said boaties who break councils’ lifejacket and speed rules will be given infringement notices of up to $300, depending on each council’s existing bylaws.

“We are focusing on boaties who do not carry or wear lifejackets as required by the Maritime Transport Act and Regional Council by-laws, and also unsafe speed,” says Manch, “Because they are two of the biggest risks of death and injury.”

“Up to two-thirds of recreational boaties who died might have been saved if they wore lifejackets. Wearing your lifejacket is the single most important thing you can do to avoid drowning if you end up unexpectedly in the water.”

The trial, funded by Maritime NZ, will also enable harbourmasters and their staff to get out on the water more often.

“Each regional council will be letting boaties know in their communities that enforcement action will happen sometime during summer,” says Manch, “The specific days when this action will occur will not be publicised. Our expectation is that safe boaties follow the requirements each and every time they go on the water.”

While the importance of the use of lifejackets is a major focus of Maritime NZ’s educational campaigns, Manch also stresses the danger of excessive speed on New Zealand’s sometimes crowded waters.

“Boaties speeding in congested areas is dangerous and can cause injuries to children, swimmers, divers and people in small craft,” says Manch, “There is a five-knot speed limit when you are near the shore, swimmers, divers and other boats.

 “For Maritime NZ it is an important addition to the mix of education and promotional activities that we traditionally use to encourage safer boating.”

The councils taking part are:

Northland Regional Council        

Bay of Plenty Regional Council  

Waikato Regional Council            

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council   

Tasman District Council                 

Nelson City Council                        

Marlborough District Council      

Canterbury Regional Council