Maritime NZ sponsors fishing show hosts to wear lifejackets

Photo / Glenn Jeffrey
Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

The hosts of a popular fishing show are being sponsored to wear lifejackets on screen in a bid to get "gung-ho" fishermen to do the same.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) is sponsoring fishing show Big Angry Fish to help fight a perception among Kiwi men that lifejackets are "uncool".

The sponsorship will see hosts Milan Radonich and Nathan O'Hearn wear a range of lifejackets every time they are on the water.

They will also be putting their safety skills on show as role models who will diligently check the weather and display responsible skipper behaviour.

MNZ's education and communication manager Pania Shingleton said other fishing shows should follow Big Angry Fish's lead.

"Research shows that more than 90 per cent of boaties own a lifejacket - they just need to wear them. Even good boaties are at risk of drowning, but if they're wearing a lifejacket, they're much more likely to survive if something goes wrong.

"We're using our research results about attitudes and behaviour in the recreational boating sector to inform our safety campaigns, and that's where Big Angry Fish plays a part. These are real Kiwi blokes, experts in boating and fishing, who recognise that lifejackets help save lives."

Ninety-eight people drowned in New Zealand last year. Fourteen of them were not wearing lifejackets,despite them being available. The corresponding figures for this year are 45 and four.

MNZ was trying to tackle the attitudes of men in their 40s who thought drowning only happened to other blokes, Ms Shingleton said.

Their research showed that a lot of men refused to wear jackets because they thought they were "uncool".

However, Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge said paying fishing show hosts to wear lifejackets was "not the best way" to go about promoting water safety.

"Lifejackets are really really important and everybody should wear them when on a boat."

Tangaroa fishing programme's Pio Terei was a good example of a proactive person who would wear a lifejacket for free, he said.

"Then there's others like Matt Watson - he's never going to weat a lifejacket [because] it's not cool."

Mr Claridge said wearing a lifejacket was the same as putting your seatbelt on in the car.

"It's about saving your life. Giving people money to showcase a lifejacket - there's a bit of a discussion to be had there."

The first of 13 episodes of Big Angry Fish will screen this Sunday.

- APNZ

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