NSW and Victoria maritime authorities are joining forces this weekend on the Murray River to remind boaters that NSW boat rules apply along the full length of the river.


Roads and Maritime Services Executive Director Maritime Angus Mitchell said while the Murray River was technically the border between the two southern-most east coast states, it was often confusing for boaters on the Murray – the majority of whom are from Victoria.


“A joint safety and compliance campaign will coincide with the annual influx of boaters on the Murray River during the Melbourne Cup long weekend,” Mr Mitchell said.


“Officers from Roads and Maritime Services and Maritime Safety Victoria will be on the water this long weekend focusing specifically on the rules which differ most markedly between the two states, including lifejackets.


“This is an important joint patrol with Maritime Safety Victoria’s compliance and investigations officers to accompany NSW Boating Safety Officers and address the high number of boating incidents, around 60 per cent, that involve Victorian boaters in NSW waters.”


Maritime Safety Victoria Director Rachel Gualano said many Victorian boaters may not be completely across NSW boating safety regulations, and therefore could be doing the wrong thing without realising it, particularly for a waterway such as the Murray that crosses the border but is subject to NSW boating safety rules.


“We want people to have the best awareness of what they should be doing – across state borders – to ensure the best possible safety and avoid fines for boaters. By increasing awareness, Victorian boaters can enjoy their time on the Murray with peace of mind,” Ms Gualano said.


“In both states, safety equipment must be carried on board. The requirements depend on the vessel type and waterway. In NSW, waterways are defined as enclosed or open, while in Victoria they are defined as inland, enclosed, coastal or offshore.


“In both states, all vessels must travel at a safe speed for the prevailing conditions and keep a safe distance from people in the water, other vessels, structures and the shore at all times. All boaters must observe any signposted speed limits.”


Another important difference in the boating safety legislation relates to the operation of personal watercraft (PWC), such as jetskis.


In NSW you must hold a PWC licence to drive a PWC. In Victoria, boat licence holders with a PWC endorsement may allow another person to drive the PWC provided the licence holder is in a position to take immediate control.


Operators and passengers must wear approved lifejackets at all times. PWC use is prohibited between sunset and sunrise in NSW, but permitted in Victoria provided appropriate navigation lights are used, highlighting the need for knowledge and understanding of the boat rules that apply for waterways, particularly those that cross state borders


Mr Mitchell said whether you’re from NSW or Victoria, it was important to wear a lifejacket.


“Don’t risk your life! Before you go out on the water take time and check that you lifejacket is in good condition. If you wear an inflatable lifejacket, make sure you do the four-step pre wear check.”


Some key stats from day one and two of the safety, education and compliance operation:

  • 558 safety checks carried out to date
  • 40 random breath tests
  • 4 drug tests
  • 26 penalty notices
  • 32 official cautions
  • 48 verbal warnings


Participating authorities:

  • Agencies participating were RMS, NSW Police MAC and Maritime Safety Victoria.
  • PWCs and wake board boats were the main vessel types on the Murray.
  • The majority of boaters on the Murray River are Victorian. One Boating Safety Officer reported that on the Saturday, patrolling around Echuca and Moama, 100 per cent of the 22 vessel operators were from Victoria.
  • In the last 10 years there have been 21 fatalities and 89 serious injuries involving boating incidents on the Murray River.
  • Of note, there was a rescue/ breakdown assist at Mulwala, and an incident at Mogareeka where a car and trailer slid into the water on a slippery ramp (no injury).
  • The campaign will continue until the end of today.



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