Boat owners given time to comply with bylaw

Marlborough boat owners have a year's grace before they will be penalised for not naming their boats, harbourmaster Alex van Wijngaarden said yesterday.

Marlborough District Council navigation bylaws, which came into effect in August 2010, require that all recreational boats operating within the Marlborough harbour limits and not subject to maritime rules display a name or similar identifying marks.

A Blenheim man who has been boating in Marlborough all his life said he had no idea the bylaw had been introduced and believed it had been implemented without enough public notice.

"I think it has been enforced by stealth - there has been no communication. The public should be notified, and I don't know how it makes the Sounds any safer."

The man received a verbal warning about the lack of a name on his boat while in the Sounds early last month, and received a written warning in the mail later that week.

Mr van Wijngaarden said the bylaw had been developed in conjunction with other regional councils and Maritime New Zealand, and he felt the public had been given a chance to respond.

Since the bylaw had been passed, the council had introduced a public education campaign that included the Safe Sounds Boating brochure and patrol staff talking to boaties, he said.

Council staff were warning boat owners, but no infringements were being issued yet, with the exception of people who had already been warned and had not yet named their boats.

"At the moment, it [the bylaw] is in an education phase. We are not penalising people yet. This will probably continue for another year."

The bylaw had been introduced because it was important to be able to identify different boats, particularly if there was an emergency and the boat was in trouble, Mr Wijngaarden said.

Boat identifying marks need to be visible from at least 50 metres away.

Boats powered only by oars or paddles do not have to be named, but the name and address of the owner or operator must be displayed on body of the boat.

Former Christchurch man Matt Dallas, who works on yachts in Spain, is having a holiday on a friend's yacht in Waikawa and said he thought the bylaw was a good idea.

"I definitely think it's the right idea. I also think registration numbers should be displayed on boats, as well as call sign and all the safety gear," he said.

The Marlborough Express