Stay safe on the water this Australia Day

20 January 2016

Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) urges boaters to be safe over the upcoming Australia Day long weekend.

Acting Director, Maritime Safety Adrian Mnew said the marine safety regulator wants to remind people to obey the speed limits, distance rules, and to wear a lifejacket.

"We urge all boaters to know  and obey the distance rules, and wear a lifejacket to avoid becoming a boating incident  statistic. Since 1 July 2015 we have had 144 boating incidents including seven fatalities, excluding those incidents only relating to a vessel breakdown.

"Speed limits and safe distance rules are in place for your safety. Boaters who ignore the rules are breaking the law. The range of consequences includes fines, damage to vessels, serious injuries requiring hospitalisation, and potential fatalities," said Mr Mnew.

"Waterfront fireworks displays often attract large crowds of boaters to small areas. This can sometimes become dangerous if boat operators don't pay attention to their surroundings and observe the boating speed and distance rules, particularly as events conclude and boats begin departing at the same time.

MSV is also reminding boaters of the importance of wearing a lifejacket and having a means of raising the alarm to get rescued.

"We are seeing an increase in  boat related drownings across the State, and of the seven deaths from 1 July 2015 until now, five (one remains unknown) of the deceased were not wearing a lifejacket.

"A lifejacket can only work when you are wearing it. Wear one or wear the consequences. The lifejacket will buy you time to raise the alarm and to get rescued. You must remember to always have a means to raise the alarm, whether that is with a registered EPIRB, personal locater beacon, or mobile phone as well as letting someone know when you are expected to return home.

"Your capacity to raise the alarm is equally as important as wearing a lifejacket. Once your lifejacket is activated you need to be rescued as soon as possible. Often in cases where people have died when wearing a lifejacket, they have not been able to raise the alarm and rescue has come too late," said Mr Mnew.

 "Boaters are responsible for keeping themselves, their passengers and those boating around them safe. The Australia Day weekend is one of the biggest boating weekends of the year and extra care is required.

"We want everyone to enjoy their Australia Day weekend, but most importantly we want everyone to be safe on the water.

You can find all you need to know about lifejackets by visiting  

For more information about boating safety, visit

For more information, please contact Pauline Constantine, Senior Communications Advisor,

M 0421 579 148, T (03) 9655 2006, E