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Vessel identification to feature in new safety rules

This is one of a number of new rules being introduced under Environment Waikato’s revised navigation safety bylaw, set to come into effect on July 1, 2009. The bylaw aims to ensure the safety of water users.

The bylaw has been approved by council following an extensive public consultation process and input from recreational waterway users all over the Waikato.

Other key changes to the bylaw include:

· Identification of vessels – to make it easier to identify vessels needing assistance from Coastguard, or those breaking rules.  Display of a vessel name or similar identifying mark will be required for mechanically power driven vessels of four metres and above and non-mechanically powered vessels of six metres and above. Smaller vessels will need to be marked with emergency contact details and/or the owner’s name or contact details. This rule comes into effect on 1 July 2010, giving people a year to ensure their vessels comply.

· Means of communication – skippers will be responsible for having an appropriate means of communication on board that enables communication with land based and/or seaborne parties from any point within the area the vessel will be operated. For vessels less than six metres, the means of communication must be able to be operated following submersion in sea water.

· Visibility of kayaks and other paddle craft – a new advisory note identifying measures to increase visibility to other vessels, such as using a chopper flag or constant white light.

The new bylaw applies to the Waikato region’s harbours, rivers, lakes and coastal waters and will be available in full on Environment Waikato’s website from July 1 2009.

“The bylaw is about ensuring the safety of water users, so it’s important that any recreational waterway users are aware of the rules,” Environment Waikato navigation safety team leader Shelley Monrad said.

The current navigation safety bylaw remains in force until 30 June 2009 and can be viewed at www.ew.govt.nz/navbylaw(external link)

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