Boating NZ : FREE TO READ February 2014
A t its late December meeting when it censured Mayor Len Brown, the Auckland Council voted unanimously to send the proposed new rules around personal flotation devices (PFDs) for public consultation. In essence it is saying boaties are too ignorant to best decide when and where to use a PFD, so the council will do it for them. This is just the tip of the iceberg. National’s Maungakiekie MP, Sam Lotu-Liga, has introduced a private member’s bill to legislate compulsory PFD wearing for all children under 15, at all times on vessels under six metres. “I have the support of Water Safety New Zealand, Maritime New Zealand and Coastguard New Zealand,” Lotu- Liga says. “They all recommend the default wearing of lifejackets on small recreational vessels. This is a measure that could immediately reduce the number of fatalities in the recreational boating sector.” Two children have died in pleasure boat drownings since in New Zealand since 2003. Keith Manch, director of Maritime NZ, confirmed its support, conceding it had not conducted any research into the relationship between drownings, boat size or type. However Eric Simpson of Water Safety New Zealand advises that its organisation would “advocate for legislation for mandatory wearing of lifejackets for craft smaller than 4m when underway”. Not craft under 6m, and not at all times. Maritime NZ’s position is the most wide-reaching. According to Keith Manch: “What we know is that far more fatalities occur with boaties who are not wearing lifejackets than those that do, therefore the default position that they should be worn at all times is a pragmatic response which MNZ believe will save lives across all age groups.” He says MNZ supports any move in that direction but does concede, “There will be some limited circumstances where it’s not reasonable to make it a legal requirement to wear a lifejacket.” MNZ no longer has a recreational boating manager but chairs the National Pleasure Boat Safety Forum. This group, comprised mainly of regulators such as harbour authorities, Police, MOT, ACC was due to produce a Pleasure Boat Safety Strategy before the end of 2013. There is no new target date for this document. In the meantime councils across New Zealand are adopting differing by-laws in a mad race to save boaties from themselves. Peter Busfield, executive director of NZ Marine, is the boating industry’s representative on the forum, along with NZ Yachting. He is most concerned about the various councils and regions adopting different by-laws in different areas. “It will turn into a farce, will have a negative effect and will impact on the ability to have simple safety messages,” he says. “Any rule needs to be practical. It needs to focus on where the problems are. Water Safety NZ’s study showed the majority of problems were small boats – open dinghies, under 4m and typically people standing up when fishing, clearing nets or pots or pulling up the anchor. Statistics show that a high percentage of accident victims are Maori and Pacifica males in dinghies. Unfortunately in many accidents, the people have not complied with existing regulations.” His inclination is that PFDs should be compulsory at all times in dinghies under four metres, but the existing rules are appropriate for larger craft, especially when backed by education like the numerous Coastguard courses. NZ Marine canvasses on behalf of the industry at a national level, but doesn’t have the resources to lobby at regional level. What happens next? In late January, as Boating goes to print, Auckland Council will call for public submissions on the draft Navigation By-laws. The period for written submissions is likely to be from February 14 to March 17. Submitters may present to the council hearing that will take place after the submission period has closed. Only persons who made a written submission and indicated that they want to speak can do so at the public hearing. The council panel may recommend changes to the draft by-law and will report its recommendations to the full council who make the final decision to approve the by-law – a costly, time- consuming process that is daunting for most busy people. If you are concerned about these proposals, please make a written submission to Auckland Council and copy your councillors and local boards. You may wish to wait for clarification of the National Pleasure Boat Safety Forum’s position. Contact details are on the Auckland Council website: www. aucklandcouncil.govt.nz. On the right hand menu headed Do It Now, click on Say It, then Have Your Say to see how to make a submission. Proposed changes to Auckland Council by-laws on PFDs could flow on to the rest of the country. Current PFD regulations All vessels (basically anything that floats including boats, kayaks, rafts, paddleboards, boat tenders, toy inflatable kids’ dinghies) must carry readily accessible lifejackets of the right size for all people on board. So even when rowing ashore in a tender, PFDs must be carried for all persons. There is an exception for surfboards, windsurfers, and divers if the person is wearing a wetsuit. The proposed regulations would also exempt stand-up paddleboards providing the person is wearing a wetsuit – otherwise a PFD is also required. There are also exceptions for harbourmaster approved events where safety craft are in attendance – eg, dragon boat racing. Lifejackets must be worn when the skipper determines conditions of heightened risk or danger such as tide or river flows, poor visibility, rough seas, adverse weather, or emergencies. Lifejackets must be of an approved standard and children’s jackets should have crotch straps. GOING OVERBOARD Words by Mike Cahill Personal flotation devices subscribe online at www.mags4gifts.co.nz/boating-nz 25 Feature_PFDs_Feb14.indd 25 21/01/2014 9:16:22 a.m.
FREE TO READ March 2014