New Zealand's South Island better at wearing life jackets

I’m cool - and I’m wearing a life jacket
BoatUS Press Room
New Zealand's South Island leads the pack on the wearing of life jackets. All right, it's only a pack of two, but being in the lead is a cause for celebration according to one Otago harbour master.

North Islanders are not very good at wearing life jackets but Lake Dunstan boat users are, harbourmaster Shayne Hitchcock says.

The Maritime New Zealand boat ramp survey, conducted every year, included a new question last summer and was directed at those noticed to be without a life jacket.

While there is no national New Zealand law that requires people to wear a life jacket, there must be one on board foreach person on the vessel.

It is up to the skipper to determine whether the conditions warrant the wearing of the jackets and it is their responsibility for any outcome.

The survey questioned 3380 people nationwide, 490 of whom were not wearing life jackets.

Common reasons for not wearing them were the person's confidence in their abilities as a boatie, the person did not think there was a risk, and they were too uncomfortable.

A report by Maritime New Zealand senior research analyst Paul Vance presented to the Central Otago District Council Clutha management committee last week said the responses to the survey painted 'a convincing picture that a lack of awareness of the potential risks in recreational boating is a key factor behind the non-wearing of life jackets'.

Although the report said the findings were not conclusive, Mr Hitchcock said that generally, boat users in Central Otago and in the wider southern region were pretty good at wearing life jackets.

The problem seemed to be with North Islanders, specifically Aucklanders.

He said some areas, Southland and Queenstown Lakes for example, had bylaws requiring life jackets to be worn, but bylaws were costly to create.

Therefore, there was a push among harbourmasters nationwide to make the wearing of life jackets compulsory.