New research released by Maritime New Zealand this week suggests 51 percent of New Zealanders might have taken to the water in recreational boats last summer (2015-16).
In a Bay of Plenty Regional Council statement released today, safer boating officer Tony Pearce said the research showed there were more boaties on the water than ever before and as a result boating safety is increasingly important.
"What this increase means is there are more occasional boaties on the water in a variety of boats, paddleboards and other craft with some not understanding how to be safe, and without the right equipment.''
The recently released research report also indicates that fewer people were reported wearing a lifejacket all the time they were on the water. Those most likely to wear lifejackets were kayakers - 81 per cent reported they always wore lifejackets.
Least likely to always wear lifejackets were powerboat users - 52 per cent - down from 61 percent in 2014. Powerboat users are the second largest group of boaties, 64 per cent of whom are male.
"Each year there are usually between 20 and 30 boating fatalities and it's likely that two-thirds of these fatalities could have been avoided if lifejackets had been worn. It's essential that you have sufficient lifejackets of an appropriate size for everyone on board and that boaties, particularly in smaller boats under 6 meters, always wear a lifejacket when they are out on the water,'' Mr Pearce said.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council has for some years had a "no excuses" policy under which people failing to carry the required number of lifejackets on vessels out on the water are fined up to $200. We'll be carrying on with this approach as part of our support for Maritime NZ's national initiative.
Link to research report, Summary of Recreational Boating Research Conducted by Research New Zealand
Safer Boating Week, October 14-21
Safer Boating Week is the week before Labour Day weekend, the traditional start of recreational boating in much of the country. The aim is to encourage boaties to take simple steps before getting back on the water: Prep your boat, Check your Gear, Know the rules.
Prep - service the engine, check and change the fuel, check the battery and just generally give the boat a good onceover.
Check - make sure your lifejackets are still fit for purpose and you have enough. Service any inflatable lifejackets and ensure you have two reliable forms of communication equipment.
Know - ensure you know the "rules of the road" on the water, and check your local bylaws to make sure you understand what the requirements are in your area.
For lots of information about what is happening around the country go to Safer Boating NZ Facebook and www.saferboating.org.nz