NSW Maritime will this weekend launch Operation Lifejackets to educate boaters about new lifejacket laws and to encourage a culture of safe and responsible boating, NSW Maritime General Manager Maritime Operations Howard Glenn said.
Mr Glenn said the state-wide boating safety campaign was a joint operation between NSW Maritime and the volunteer units of Marine Rescue NSW.
“The aim is to raise awareness of the new lifejacket laws, especially the need to wear lifejackets at times of heightened risk such as boating alone or boating offshore,” Mr Glenn said.
“The aim of Operation Lifejackets is to educate the boating community about the new lifejacket rules to improve boating safety.
“Last year, 23 lives were lost in boating incidents and too often this involved drowning and small vessels.
“This campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the new laws and encouraging a culture of safe and responsible boating. Lifejackets save lives, but they can’t save your life if you’re not wearing one,” he said
Under the new laws all boaters must wear lifejackets on vessels less than 4.8 metres at night, on open (ocean) waters, on alpine waters, and when boating alone.
Children under 12-years-old must wear lifejackets on boats less than 4.8m or when they in open areas of vessels less than 8 metres that are underway.
In line with the “You’re the Skipper, You’re Responsible” message the new laws also give skippers the legal authority to require passengers put on a lifejacket in risky situations such as in rough water or after a break-down.
While boaters get used to the new rules there will be a 12-month advisory period where warnings will be issued for first offences. The length of 4.8m is being used because that is a length used in international standards for vessel buoyancy and stability, and boats under that length are more susceptible to swamping and capsize.
Marine Rescue NSW will support the campaign in an education role only, as the volunteers have no legislated compliance responsibility. For more information on boating safety, go to www.maritime.nsw.gov.au