3 Dec 2013

Boaties doubt jacket bylaw will save lives

8:12 pm on 3 December 2013

Auckland boaties fighting a proposed lifejacket bylaw say it won't necessarily save lives and cite the deaths of a father and daughter at Lake Tarawera last weekend.

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Photo: RNZ

The Auckland Council has recommended the bylaw which would mean people on boats up to six metres long would have to wear lifejackets.

Auckland Yachting and Boating Association spokesperson Richard Brown says the drowning on Sunday of a father and his six-year-old daughter who fell out of a one-person kayak at Lake Tarawera shows laws don't always work.

Mr Brown says there was a lifejacket rule in force there, but it wasn't followed, and boaties don't want to be restricted because of other people's lack of skills on the water.

Mike Cahill from the Hibiscus Coast Boating Club agrees, saying the bylaw would not reduce the number of drownings.

"We are not against lifejackets, but we are totally for personal responsibility, that the skipper should be saying, 'Yes you should wear a lifejacket'. This has gone well beyond that and it will not work and will make criminals out of a lot of very good and responsible boaties."

Mr Cahill said the bylaw would also mean more work for an already under-resourced harbour master.

However, the executive officer of Watersafe Auckland says the lifejacket bylaw will save lives.

Sandy Harrop says it makes no sense to carry lifejackets, but not wear them and of the 215 boating related deaths in the past 20 years, 178 people were not wearing them.

The proposal goes out to public consultation in early 2014.