Sunday, November 28, 2021

Boating accidents report ‘sombre’ reading

The importance of wearing a lifejacket on a boat and planning for the unexpected has been highlighted in a Maritime NZ report evaluating the key contributing factors in 92 recreational boating accidents.

The boating accidents evaluated by the Agency occurred between January 2015 and December 2020 and claimed 98 lives between them.

The report catalogues a significant number of on-water fatalities, many of which were preventable, it said.

Maritime NZ Deputy Director and Chair of the Safer Boating Forum, Sharyn Forsyth said the report makes for sombre reading.

“Each year a number of people die while participating in recreational boating, an activity pursued for enjoyment, or for the benefit of friends or family,” she said.

“The tragedy at the Manukau Bar with the loss of three lives over the weekend is a horrific lead-in to Safer Boating Week, which runs this week.

“We had hoped these lives could have been saved. Our heartfelt sympathies are with the families of those lost.

“Each accident is tragic and has its own unique set of circumstances, but the common factors across these accidents can help highlight ways that similar incidents may be prevented in the future,” Ms Forsyth said.

The report found a majority of those who died in recreational boating accidents died from drowning after they ended up in the water from either falling overboard, or the vessel capsizing or being swamped (filling with water).

The highest number of accidents occurred on small power boats, small powered and unpowered dinghies or inflatable boats.

Most recreational boating accidents happened suddenly, and people were in the water before they had time to use emergency equipment that was not already being worn.

“Thirty-five people died after falling overboard from a vessel that remained upright and floating. These deaths are likely preventable if the deceased was wearing a lifejacket.”

“Behind each death is someone’s whānau and friends, who unfortunately never had an opportunity to farewell their loved ones.

“We owe it to their families and friends to understand these circumstances to ensure we can do all we can to prevent senseless deaths on the water,” says Ms Forsyth.

She said Maritime NZ will use the information to help inform New Zealand’s Recreational Craft Safety Strategy.

Recreational Boating Fatality Report – 2015-2020[PDF: 3.3MB, 63 pages]

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