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Submissions dispute lifejacket wearing

Last updated 05:00 05/06/2014

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Auckland boaties are continuing to push for an exemption to compulsory lifejacket wearing in pleasure boats under six metres long.

About 80 per cent of written submissions opposed the Auckland Council's draft navigation bylaw proposal on this.

The boating community submissions were almost unanimous in supporting the carrying of lifejackets on all boats and the need for skipper's discretion to allow non-wearing at times of lower risk, such as when anchored in sheltered waters, Hibiscus Coast Boating Club spokesman Mike Cahill says.

He says the council should wait until the Maritime NZ sponsored National Pleasure Boat Safety Forum updates its safety policy, possibly this week, so there's a consistent nationwide regulation.

The majority of boating community submissions advocated that compulsory wearing (with skipper discretion) should only apply to boats under 4.8 metres long.

"Maritime NZ official statistics confirm there haven't been any drownings in New Zealand in the last five years from pleasure boats 4.8 to 6m long," Cahill says. "The tragic drownings in Auckland were on smaller dinghy-type boats under 4.8 metres where correct lifejackets should have been worn under existing bylaws."

NZ Marine Association submissions on behalf of the $1.7 billion marine industry, Yachting NZ, Auckland Yachting and Boating Association, and 15 individual boating clubs represent some 70,000 boaties, Cahill says.

"All submissions support continuing education programmes targeted at the most vulnerable groups, rather than poorly drafted regulations that criminalises responsible boaties and are inconsistent with maritime rules."

A council review panel will deliberate on the submissions tomorrow before making a recommendation to the full council.

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- Rodney Times

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