Mr Vincent has been working with the honorary wardens to make locals aware of the problem and has been leaving brochures on cars parked around boat ramps to inform them of what type of lighting is required.
Although he was not aware of any recent accidents, he said more and more Mercury Bay game fishing club members were reporting near misses or sightings of boats without lights.
“The unlit boats are usually clustered around the harbour entrance or estuary mouth, right in the path of big launches that come powering in and out, and the skippers of these launches are quite concerned,” Mr Vincent said.
“It’s illegal to use a boat at night without the correct lights and it could easily result in a death.”
Mr Vincent said he would be moving into a compliance phase following the education campaign, and wanted to give boaties fair warning.
“In a few weeks’ time we will be looking for boats coming in after dark and if they don’t have adequate lights the skipper will get an instant $200 fine.”
Mr Vincent said the type of lights required for boats depended on their size, but as a general rule of thumb the people putting themselves at risk were small row boats, tinnies and inflatable vessels.
“Skippers of these boats need to think about putting a small mast or upstand with a white light on top that is visible for a least a mile in all directions,” he said.
“The lights must be switched on from sunset to sunrise and during times of poor visibility, such as in rain or fog.”
For more information please visit Environment Waikato’s website, www.ew.govt.nz/navlights(external link), or call Mr Vincent on 0800 800 401.