The recent statewide waterway safety blitz, Operation Afloat and Alert, resulted in 57 fines for boaters and jetski riders found to be breaking NSW boating law.

NSW Maritime Executive Director Mark Hutchings said the good news is the majority boaters – more than 80 per cent – showed they understood and follow the rules which exist to keep everyone safe on NSW waterways.

“The top three types of fines issued were for not maintaining or carrying the required number of lifejackets, not wearing lifejackets and operating an unregistered vessel,” Mr Hutchings said.

“If you’re doing the wrong thing, you will get caught.”

NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers carried out the statewide compliance blitz with a focus on reducing the number of serious incidents on our waterways.

Mr Hutchings said since COVID restrictions last year there has been a significant increase in the number of boaters and boating licences. There has been a 60 per cent increase in new boat licences issued in the eight months to March 2021 compared to the same period the previous year.

“There has also been an increase in reported boating incidents – 337 this year compared to 227 during the same time last year,” Mr Hutchings said.

Another focus of the state-wide compliance operation was to educate boaters on the importance of keeping a proper lookout, especially in light of recent extreme weather events.

“At the moment we’re seeing a large amount of submerged and semi-submerged debris floating in the state’s waterways and offshore as a result of recent floods, including entire trees, fridges and other large objects. The amount of debris floating poses a risk so it’s crucial that boaters are aware so they can avoid these objects and get home safely,” he said.

“Several hundred navigation markers to guide skippers around hazards have also been washed out of place across the state.”

During the weekend, 65 Boating Safety Officers carried out more than 1,275 random safety checks from Tweed Heads on the north coast, south to the Victorian border, and along inland lakes and waterways including the entire Murray River.

“Our message to boaters is to have fun but to take some simple safety precautions when heading out on the water. Always wear a lifejacket, always keep a proper lookout and don’t go out if weather conditions are poor,” Mr Hutchings said.