26 September 2023

Busy waters found rocking the boats

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The Department of Transport and Main Roads is concerned that a significant rise in boating activity last year coincided with the highest number of marine fatalities in 20 years.

Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey said figures released in Maritime Safety Queensland’s Marine Incident Report 2020 made for distressing reading.

“In 2020, 17 lives were needlessly lost on Queensland waterways,” Mr Bailey said.

“This was one higher than the previous year, and well above anything Queensland has experienced in the previous 20 years.”

He said the additional fatalities the State experienced on the roads was echoed on its waterways.

“Despite less cars being on the road during lockdowns, more Queenslanders took risks like speeding or drug driving, resulting in more deaths and severe injuries,” Mr Bailey said.

He said the Report confirmed a significant rise in the number of new boats in 2020, with an extra 7,224 recreational vessels registered.

“This was more than three times the number we would expect to see in any given year,” Mr Bailey said.

“There were 33 reported incidents of people going overboard in 2020, which included 14 of the 17 fatalities, the highest in 10 years.”

Mr Bailey said the Report showed boat users were continuing to ignore safety messages and disregarding the routine use of lifejackets.

“While the circumstances may differ over time, the water safety message hasn’t changed,” he said.

“Boat operators need to keep a proper lookout at all times and always travel at a safe speed.

“Most importantly, they must have enough lifejackets for all on board and ensure they wear them whenever there’s a heightened risk.”

Mr Bailey said Maritime Safety Queensland would continue a campaign of checks on safety equipment and unlicensed operation of vessels.

Maritime Safety Queensland’s 25-page Marine Incident Report 2020 can be accessed at this PS News link.

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