All hands on deck for a safer boating season


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Water rescue first responders are preparing for a hot and busy summer ahead, as they mark the commencement of the 2023/24 boating season this Labour Day long weekend.

NSW Maritime, Marine Rescue NSW, NSW Police Marine Area Command, and Surf Life Saving NSW have converged on Botany Bay near Sans Souci to highlight the inter-agency cooperation needed to keep waterways safe.

This coincides with a NSW Maritime statewide operation over the long weekend to educate boaters about safety, ensure they meet licencing requirements and check they are appropriately equipped for a safe day on the water. 

Predictions of a hot and dry summer have been confirmed with the declaration of an El Nino climate driver, putting water rescue groups on alert for another busy season on the state’s coastal and inland waterways.

Last year, there were 11 boating-related fatalities on NSW waterways and 48 drownings along the state’s coastline.

The NSW Government is committed to ensuring our emergency services and first responders have all the tools they need to keep the marine community safe, including specialised training and the latest technology.  

To help lift the capability of rescue services, three new Marine Rescue NSW rescue watercraft (jet skis) will soon be operational on Sydney waterways, with two of these to be used on Botany Bay and Port Hacking. These small and manoeuvrable watercraft will allow for rescues in areas larger vessels cannot reach, such as those close to the coastline.

The boating season launch coincides with the conclusion of National Safe Boating Week, which this year highlighted the importance of wearing the right type of lifejacket and knowing how to maintain it.

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Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said:

“This long weekend marks the start of what we expect to be a very busy season for our personnel and volunteers. We urge people to act responsibly and look out for each other in and around our waterways so we can all enjoy and make the most of a safe boating season.”

“Seeing Marine Rescue NSW, NSW Maritime, NSW Police Marine Area Command and Surf Life Saving NSW join forces on Botany Bay today provides an opportunity to recognise the people working tirelessly to keep us all safe on the water, and we ask the community to also prioritise safety while having fun this summer.”

“Each team has different strengths, capabilities and areas of focus, but we are all united when it comes to safety on NSW waterways.”

Minister for Police Yasmin Catley said:

“There’s nothing better than a hot summer day out on the water but it’s important that we stay safe while having fun.”

“I know the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command will be working around the clock this summer to help keep our waterways safe and I thank them for the important work they do.”

NSW Maritime Executive Director Mark Hutchings said:

“We’re calling on all skippers to check their vessels and safety equipment. Lots of boats will have been sitting idle over winter, so it’s crucial to give them a proper once over before heading out on the water.”

“We still see too many boaters without a lifejacket. Sadly, all five boating deaths this financial year were people not wearing a lifejacket. Our message is simple – service your lifejacket, take your lifejacket, and wear your lifejacket – it can only save you if you wear it.”

NSW Police Force Marine Area Commander Acting Superintendent Siobhan Munro said:

“We know that when the temperatures rise, the community flocks to our waterways so we are putting people on notice that police will be patrolling all the state’s waterways including dams and rivers and any dangerous and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.”

“We will be conducting drug and alcohol testing as well as compliance checks – so make sure that your vessel is in good working order, know your vessel’s capabilities and don’t go beyond its limits. Our goal is to get you home safely.”

Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Darren Schott said:

“Marine Rescue NSW is coming off its busiest year on record with volunteers completing more than 4,500 rescue missions across the state.”

“Always wear a lifejacket and Log On with Marine Rescue NSW, if you don’t return as planned we will initiate a search.”

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce said:

“We are headed for an extremely hot and dry summer and are expecting a major surge in numbers on beaches and waterways this season.”

“Swim between the flags, make sure you supervise your children, wear a lifejacket where it’s necessary, and if you do that, we’ll have a great summer and keep everyone safe.”

Yasmin Catley

Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism

Minister for the Hunter

Jihad Dib

Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government

Minister for Emergency Services

Minister for Youth Justice

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