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Source: Maritime New Zealand

Otago’s second annual ‘No Excuses’ campaign marks two years of remarkable progress in keeping the region’s recreational boaties safe, Maritime New Zealand says.

This year’s No Excuses sees a record 18 harbourmasters around the country on the water with Maritime NZ maritime officers, focusing on recreational boaties who don’t carry or wear lifejackets or whose speed on the water is unsafe.

Otago’s campaign will get underway in the next few days and will see the Otago Harbourmaster and maritime officers working together on random days throughout the summer checking boatie behaviour. Those who break the rules could face the consequences, including infringement notices of up to $300.

Safer Boating Forum Chair and Maritime NZ Deputy Director, Sharyn Forsyth, said the difference over the last two years was marked. “Otago Regional Council has made perhaps the most rapid advances of anywhere in New Zealand, after so many years without a Harbourmaster,” she said.

Two years ago Otago did not have a harbourmaster, a harbourmaster’s vessel or operational by-laws for recreational boating. Now it has all of those and a deputy-harbourmaster as well. It also has a steady work programme for improving safety – the installation of 5-knot speed marker buoys being the latest example.

The No Excuses campaign is funded by Maritime NZ so harbourmasters can provide additional staff, time and resources to the campaign, on top of the safer boating work they already do.

“Up to two-thirds of recreational boaties who drown might have been saved if they wore lifejackets,” Ms Forsyth said. “Boaties speeding in busy areas is dangerous and can injure children, swimmers, divers and people in small craft.”

The Otago by-laws require people to wear a lifejacket at all times, unless the skipper indicates they can take them off. Even then, there must be enough appropriately sized life-jackets on board for everyone on the boat.

“Safe boaties follow the rules each and every time they go on the water. There are no excuses for breaking the rules and causing risk to yourself and others,” Ms Forsyth said.

Boaties should always follow the boating safety code – wear life jackets, carry at least two waterproof ways of calling for help, check the marine weather, avoid alcohol, and be a responsible skipper.

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