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Help for local BSOs - Maritime Specialists head to Murray River

by Roads and Maritime Services Media Unit on 9 Jan 2014
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Two members of the mobile safety, education, and compliance team (MSECT), specialists in boating safety, have arrived to help local Boating Safety Officers (BSO) on the Murray River.

Roads and Maritime Services Acting Maritime Director David Hunter said BSO Jim Lawson and BSO Simon Walter had travelled to the Murray River to carry out patrols near Moama as part of a statewide towing safety campaign.

'The Murray River is a busy boating destination at this time of the year, especially for towing sports such as waterskiing,' Mr. Hunter said.

'MSECT BSOs are completely mobile and often cover long distances by road to reach their next assigned destination.'

BSO Lawson said the pair drove from Sydney to reach the Murray River this week, towing a trailer containing their tools of the trade – jet skis and a rigid hull inflatable boat.

Before helping the Sydney team of BSOs with boating safety patrols during the busy Christmas period, including the Sydney to Hobart start, they were patrolling the Tweed River in the northern-most parts of the state.

'There’s a lot of travel involved with what we do, but it’s never boring,' BSO Lawson said.

'As we are not limited to one patrol area, we get a good idea of behavioural trends across NSW.'

BSO Lawson said a pleasing recent trend was an improved compliance by boaters with lifejacket wear requirements. However there is a continued focus to ensure people are wearing lifejackets, especially in small boats when required.

So far during the campaign, about 200 boats had been randomly stopped by the BSOs patrolling the Murray River checking for required safety equipment and ensuring towing activities are being carried out safely.

'We’re finding pretty good compliance generally among boaters. Between us, we have only found a small number of offences resulting in a ticket being issued, mainly for missing items of safety equipment like torches or buckets,' BSO Lawson said.

'Compliance and conduct with those who are carrying out towing activities has been really encouraging, with only a small number of tickets for towing related offences issued.'

He said the most common misunderstanding was about who can be an observer on a boat carrying out towing activities.

To be an observer, you either have to be 16 years or older, or, if you’re between 12 and 16, you must be the holder of a young adult boat licence.

'We also ask boaters to ensure they leave a good distance as a buffer when passing skiers in the water and to pull the throttle back and pass at a safe speed,' BSO Lawson said.

On Friday, the pair will hitch their boating equipment onto the trailer again and head to Port Macquarie where they will meet up with other MSECT members to start a road show of safety talks for commercial fishermen in conjunction with NSW Fisheries Officers.

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