During Operation Blue Water, held from 5 to 13 April, 884 vessels, 763 recreational vessels and 61 commercial vessels, were randomly checked by Roads and Maritime Services Boating Safety Officers (BSO).
Roads and Maritime Services Acting Director Maritime Michael Wright said the 92 per cent compliance rate during the campaign was pleasing as it indicated most skippers are aware blue water boating requires an extra level of planning and preparation, particularly with safety equipment.
'In the past three years there were nine recorded incidents which occurred in offshore water resulting in 13 fatalities, mostly after vessels capsized and people fell overboard,' Mr Wright said
'During the campaign, which was punctuated by high seas, strong wind and rain, 38 penalty notices or fines were issued, with 27 formal warnings. Of those, ten fines and 13 formal warnings were for missing safety equipment.
'On the mid-north coast there was a large number of people fishing offshore due to large schools of mackerel in the area. Compliance levels were good.
'Patrols conducted offshore from Sydney revealed the need for checks to be conducted more frequently after two of four commercial vessels inspected were found to not have the required safety equipment and one had multiple items missing,' Mr Wright said.
The lifejacket safety message also seems to be getting through with only one fine during the campaign – for insufficient lifejackets when a vessel operating close to shore with three people on board was found to be carrying only two lifejackets.
'During the past decade, nine out of 10 people who drowned while boating weren’t wearing a lifejacket.
'People need to make putting on a lifejacket a habit, a bit like putting on sunscreen, because one day it might just save your life,' Mr Wright said.
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