NSW Maritime launched a safety blitz on the weekend of 22-23 January, inspecting boats and jet-skis for sea-worthiness while urging sailors, jetski riders, kayakers, boaters and stand-up paddleboarders (SUP) to wear a lifejacket at all times on the water.
One of the primary focuses of the safety blitz was kayakers and canoeists. There were 16 boating fatalities recorded in 2021 and 13 of them had not been wearing a lifejacket, and half of those were kayaking or canoeing at the time. There is, however, currently no legal obligation for SUP riders to wear a life jacket because paddleboards are not seen as a ‘vessel’.
Shoreline rock fishers were also warned to be cautious – there have been 15 ocean drownings since 1 Dec 2021, three of them men swept off ledges while fishing.
According to the law: “Anyone rock fishing in a declared location must wear an appropriate lifejacket. This includes people helping you to rock fish and children. Failing to wear an appropriate lifejacket while rock fishing in a declared area may result in a $100 on the spot fine.”
The compliance operation was conducted across the state, including inland waterways, rivers and tidal bays, and throughout Sydney Harbour.
On Saturday, Manly Observer watched a NSW Maritime boat engage with stand-up paddleboarders, a fisherman in an aluminium dinghy, and a man and his son in an inflatable rubber dinghy in North Harbour between Little Manly and Dobroyd Head.
Penalties for non-compliance of marine safety laws range from between $100-$250 fines for exceeding recommended speed limits; $250 for not wearing a lifejacket (plus $250 for not carrying a lifejacket for every passenger aboard); and $500 for operating a jet-ski without a license.
NSW Maritime’s weekend water safety blitz resulted in 2,080 safety checks, with 88 fines and 227 Official Warnings issued across the state, as those speeding, not wearing (or carrying) a life jacket, or piloting unregistered vessels fell afoul of the Laws.