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Auckland boaties resist life jacket change

by Nancy Knudsen on 6 Jun 2014
We don't have to wear life jackets because our boat is more than 4.8m and less than 6m SW
According to recent submissions, Auckland boaties don't want to be forced to wear life jackets where there have been no fatalities in New Zealand recently on certain size boats. They want an exemption to compulsory lifejacket wearing in pleasure boats under six metres long but longer than 4.8 metres.

An amazing 80% per cent of written submissions were opposed the Auckland Council's draft navigation bylaw proposal which would introduce the regulation.

The boating community submissions were, however, 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, according to spokesman for the Hibiscus Coast Boating Club Mike Cahill.

Mr Cahill 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 apply to boats under 4.8 metres long.

The argument put forward for this involves the fact that, in the last five years, no occupants of boats in New Zealand between 4.8 and six metres have drowned.

The submissions received do support continuing education programs targeted at the most vulnerable groups, rather than 'poorly' drafted regulations that 'criminalise responsible boaties'.

A council review panel will deliberate on the submissions before making a recommendation on the issue.
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