Lifejacket message finally being heard

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 06:44 21/01/2014

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Canterbury's water safety watchdog has given boaties the thumbs up for their "drastic improvement" in lifejacket wearing.

Environment Canterbury's recreational boating officer, Evan Walker, said ECan did not have to issue a single infringement notice for people failing to wear lifejackets over the period December 14 to January 12.

"This is in stark contrast to last summer, where there were dozens of reported incidents. You get the odd middle-aged man wanting to be macho, but at least they're carrying lifejackets on their boat. They just have to be told to wear them," Mr Walker said.

Under ECan's bylaws, everyone on board a boat smaller than six metres must wear a properly secured lifejacket.

Skippers can face fines up to $500 for refusing to do so.

Mr Walker said it had up to six people monitoring the Waitaki and South Canterbury lakes over the summer holiday period. Local police also assisted, although they were not as active as in the previous summer.

"We took an 'education-first' approach," Mr Walker said.

"People responded to that pretty well."

Earlier this month, he was concerned about the number of "middle-aged boyracers" on jet skis skirting close to the Benmore dam spillway.

However, he said recent publicity appeared to have "shaken people into sense".

There has not been a major incident on the lakes since late 2012, when a 45-year-old man suffered serious injuries after crashing into shallow rocks at Lake Aviemore.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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