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Water safety crucial for whitebaiters

Waikato whitebaiters are being reminded of the importance of sticking to water safety guidelines amid anecdotal reports some aren’t following the rules.

Since the start of the whitebait season, which officially got underway on 15 August, there have been safety concerns around boaties travelling to and from their whitebait stands, said senior harbourmaster Chris Bredenbeck from Waikato Regional Council’s maritime services team.

“We’ve had reports of boats not complying with or knowing the river rules or recommended behaviour. This has included vessels heading towards each other on a collision course for too long.

“There has also been concern about boats speeding in areas of where they should be going only five knots. It’s important that people stick to the rules and show courtesy to each other to avoid mishaps.”

Chris also reminds families that all members travelling in boats should wear lifejackets while the vessel is underway.

“This includes adults, as well as children. Not only is it the law in smaller vessels under six metres but it also sets an important example to our children, building those good habits for us to all become better boaties.”

Also, the team is reminding boaties not to forget other safety basics, such as carrying effective communications and taking care when crossing river bars.

“There is limited cell phone reception on areas of the Waikato River for example. So at least two forms of waterproof communications is essential. VHF radio or even something as simple as a whistle could save your life in an emergency,” says Chris.

Other key river safety rules and tips:

  • ensure your vessel keeps as near to the starboard side of the river channel as safely possible
  • if going upstream give way to any vessel coming downstream.
  • keep watch for submerged rocks and other obstacles.

Any breaches of rules can be reported to the team on 0800 800 401.

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