Boaties put on notice over water safety

Published 1:30pm 28 March 2024

Boaties put on notice over water safety
Words by Nick Crockford

Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) is urging boaties to stay safe these Easter holidays by slowing down and wearing lifejackets when on the water.

MSQ’s Easter boating safety campaign, which will target non-compliance with speed and lifejackets regulations, has started and will run until April 14, 2024.

The Maritime Enforcement Team (MET), which more than doubled in size in the past year, will be on the water ensuring boaties comply with the safety rules.

MET’s safety campaign in the summer holidays noted a 10 per cent increase in non-compliance from previous years – particularly speeding and not having the correct lifejackets on board and/or not wearing them properly.

Boaties put on notice over water safety
Maritime Safety Queensland General Manager Ken Dillon

The MSQ enforcement team issued 358 infringements and warnings to boaties over the summer holidays.

"Boaties need to understand the message speeding is dangerous on the water, as it is on roads,” Maritime Safety Queensland General Manager Kell Dillon said.

“It is particularly dangerous when waterways are more congested, as speeding reduces a skipper’s decision-making time to avoid incidents.

“And we cannot emphasise enough that lifejackets are the seatbelts of the sea.”

Mr Dillon said it was “seriously concerning” MSQ’s Maritime Enforcement Team found such unsafe behaviour on our busiest waterways in the summer.

"Having two in every three intercepted boaties doing the wrong thing is simply unsustainable from a safety point of view,” he said.

"It is particularly disappointing that speeding and life jacket offences continue to feature prominently.

"So, I say to boaties, please slow down, wear your lifejacket and make sure everyone else does too.

“If you end up in the water and you’re not wearing your lifejacket, it can’t save you.”

Queensland has more than a million recreational boat licence holders (including watercraft/jetski licences) and many flock to waterways over the Easter holidays.

There were 16 boating fatalities in 2023 - most drownings after unexpected incidents resulting in people being thrown overboard.

From 2018-23, 68 people drowned or were presumed to have drowned in marine incidents involving recreational vessels in Queensland. Only five were known to have been wearing a lifejacket.

MSQ’s website has more information on speed limits and lifejackets.

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