Changes to marine safety laws to ease requirements for some paddlers

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Transport for NSW has announced that changes to marine safety laws will ease requirements for some paddlers to wear lifejackets while under the supervision of experienced and accredited coaches.

Under recent changes to the Marine Safety (General) Regulation 2009, accredited coaches can now exempt paddlers from wearing a lifejacket when more than 100 metres from shore on enclosed waters, subject to two conditions:

· the accredited coach has determined the person not wearing a lifejacket has enough swimming ability, skill and fitness; and

· the person not wearing the lifejacket remains close to, and is directly supervised by, the accredited coach at all times.

An ‘accredited coach’ is a person who has achieved accreditation under the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme, recognised by the Australian Sport Commission as a Flatwater Coach Level 1 or Level 2.

Office of Boating Safety and Maritime Affairs General Manager Howard Glenn said the changes would ease restrictions on paddlers training under appropriate supervision on enclosed waters.

'There is no exemption for paddlers on open waters, such as the ocean, where lifejackets are still required to be worn at all times,' Mr Glenn said.

'There is a significant difference between boating on protected waters and boating offshore.

'There is also a big difference between paddle training with the right supervision and general boating which typically involves the use of open runabouts.

'Around 1.8 million people go boating each year in NSW, and the most common type of boat is the open runabout. These craft are more susceptible to capsizing and swamping - which is why it’s compulsory to wear a lifejacket in more circumstances when in a boat of less than 4.8 metres long.

'Lifejacket design has also come a long way over recent times and the modern styles can be worn in relative comfort for the entire day out on the water, which is especially important in the typical ‘tinnie’.

'A lifejacket never ruined a day on the water – but it could easily save your life.'