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Operation Safer Waters: 'Check the Decks' A Resounding Success

by Roads and Maritime Services 11 Oct 00:35 UTC 22 September - 1 October 2018
Clear the Decks boating Campaign © Geoff Ward

The boating season is off to a good start following the completion of Operation Safer Waters: ‘Check the Decks’ on waterways across NSW.

NSW Maritime Executive Director Angus Mitchell said the operation saw 46 NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers (BSOs) deployed across the state from Eden to Tweed Heads, from 7am to 5pm every day of the long weekend.

“The primary focus of Operation Safer Waters: ‘Check the Decks’ is safety equipment diligence, especially maintenance and use of lifejackets, and awareness of weather and water conditions,” Mr Mitchell said.

“The BSOs conducted three days of high-visibility patrols with a concentrated effort on compliance checks on all vessels, following a lead-up campaign where Boating Education Officers promoted safe boating practices and behaviours across the state.”

The campaign’s week-long education drive provided information at boat ramps and local events to support the on-water checks.

The BSOs then carried out a total of 2445 vessel safety checks over the long weekend resulting in a compliance rate of more than 80 per cent, proving most people are doing the right thing and making sure the safety equipment is on board and working properly.

Mr Mitchell said the majority of the penalty notices and formal warnings issued were related to lifejacket wear and condition.

“If you’re going out on the water, it is essential that you take every step to ensure your own safety and that of others,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Lifejackets need to be checked before you go out to make sure they are serviced according to manufacturer’s instructions, are in good condition and working properly.

“Maritime staff will continue to hold demonstrations and provide more information to boaters at events and on social media to help people understand lifejacket maintenance and service requirements.”

NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers came to the rescue multiple times during the operation to assist kayakers, snorkellers and larger boats, avoiding potentially serious incidents around the Narooma bar and on Lake Macquarie.

Mr Mitchell said prevention can be the best cure and emphasised the importance of checking forecasts and being prepared for weather changes.

“Weather varies across the state and the water is still pretty cold at this early time of the summer season, particularly in regions where we are still seeing snow,” Mr Mitchell said.

“In poor conditions, it may be worth postponing a trip on the water.”

Waterways patrolled during this operation included the Far and Mid North coasts, Hunter and Port Stephens, Broken Bay and Hawkesbury River – including offshore as well as Pittwater to Penrith – Sydney Harbour, Botany Bay and Georges River, Port Hacking, South Coast and the Murray River Region.

Operation Safer Water: ‘Check the Decks’ was the first campaign for the 2018-19 boating season and ran from Saturday 22 September to Monday 1 October 2018.

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