Cockburn Volunteer Sea Search and Rescue Commander backs boat safety review


The Department of Transport held summer safety blitzes across a number of boating ramps last November, turning plenty of skippers away for failing safety requirements. Picture: Will Russell
The Department of Transport held summer safety blitzes across a number of boating ramps last November, turning plenty of skippers away for failing safety requirements. Picture: Will Russell

A REVIEW of safety equipment required on recreational vessels has been welcomed by the Cockburn Volunteer Sea Search and Rescue group, with Commander Brad Nicholas saying it is a timely discussion to have.

The recently launched review of recreational boat safety equipment requirements is the first of its kind in 25 years.

Commander Nicholas’ team attends 200 incidents each year, returning more than 600 people safely to land.

He said it was a good discussion to have, with technology having evolved significantly since the last review.

He said the number of recreational vessels had boomed too, together with the distances they were being taken offshore.

“Our group has been involved in recent incidents that have resulted in three fatalities,” he said.

“Any open discussion that might improve safety of life at sea is a good discussion to have.”

Transport minister Rita Saffioti said safety regulations needed to be brought into the 21st century.

“In an emergency, safety equipment can save a life so we must ensure the requirements meet the needs of the growing number of vessel types and also reflect the significant improvements in technology since the last review in 1992,” she said.

“The aim of the review is to enhance the safety of people on the water without reducing the participation rate or imposing unreasonable costs on those who enjoy boating.”

One consideration set to create debate centres on making life jackets compulsory for all recreational vessels including motor boats, sailing boats, canoes and stand-up paddleboards.

Commander Nicholas said the mandatory wearing of life jackets would always be contentious.

“The discussion needs to focus on all of the risks that exist the moment a vessel leaves the jetty, not just capsizing where there have been reports of people wearing inherently buoyant personal flotation devices (PFDs) becoming trapped,” he said.

“Weighing up all of the risks that are ever-present on a constantly moving platform need to be considered.

“For our crews the wearing of PFDs has become second-nature; just like wearing a seatbelt in a car.

“From a rescue perspective, it is incredibly difficult to locate a person in the water at the best of times.

“An inflated jacket not only dramatically increases the chances of survival but also increases the chances of being located.

“This applies equally to kite surfers which we are often called to assist.”To view the discussion paper, visit www.transport.wa.gov.au/safetyequipmentreview.

The Department of Transport will host two community information events as part of the first stage of consultation.

The first will be held at the Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club tonight from 3pm to 8pm.

The second will be held at the Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group between 3pm and 8pm on June 22.

To register, email safetyequipreview@transport.wa.gov.au or phone 9435 7547.

MORE: Perth meth use declining according to waste water results

MORE: northern suburbs doctor on indecent assault charge

MORE: police raids on shops in Perth and Northbridge uncovers synthetic drugs