by Penny Robins
Operation Alpine, a recent campaign to target lifejacket use on alpine waters, was carried out from 17th to 20th May on Blowering Dam, Talbingo Reservoir, Lake Eucumbene, Lake Burrinjuck, Khancoban Pondage, Tumut Ponds, Tooma Dam and Three Mile Dam.
NSW Transport Roads and Maritime services
The campaign has found a disappointing number of boaters are still not wearing lifejackets when legally required to, Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) Maritime Acting General Manager Maritime Operations Trevor Williams said.
Twelve fines and eight formal warnings were issued for non-compliance with lifejacket laws during Operation Alpine.
In all, 120 boaters were randomly stopped and checked by RMS Boating Safety Officers for compliance with safety equipment, especially lifejackets, during the campaign.
Mr Williams said boating on alpine waters poses additional hazards to other locations, with water temperatures averaging below 14 degrees for much of the year, and dropping to six or seven degrees in winter.
'If you unexpectedly fall into the water, you may quickly become incapacitated as your body reacts to the ‘cold shock’ of immersion,' he said.
Alpine waters are defined as Lake Burrinjuck, Lake Eucumbene, Lake Jindabyne, Khancoban Pondage, Swampy Plains River, Mannus Lake, Googong Reservoir, Blowering Dam, and all navigable waters contained within the boundaries of the Kosciusko National Park as reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 – NSW.
Since 1st November 2010, strengthened lifejacket laws in NSW have required lifejackets to be worn more often by those boating on alpine waters.
Mr Williams said those who go fishing in small boats such as runabouts represent the biggest group who appear not to understand the new lifejacket laws for boating on alpine waters.
'There are no exceptions. If you are on a small vessel, then you need to wear a lifejacket at all times,' Mr Williams said.
Other times lifejackets need to be worn on alpine waters include:
• By children under 12 years, when in an open area of a vessel 4.8m to 8m that is under way
• When wearing waders on a vessel
• When being towed on water skis or other towing devices
• When canoeing and kayaking
• When using off-the-beach sailing vessels such as catamarans and centreboard boats
• When sailboarding
• When on a personal watercraft (PWC).
For more information on when to wear a lifejacket in which circumstances, click here.
Roads and Maritime Services NSW website