20 marine deaths worst on record

Queensland’s marine fatalities toll was the worst on record last year, with 20 deaths and 24 people suffering serious injury.

Opposition transport spokesman Fiona Simpson says the State Government doesn’t have enough water police on duty and there should be more education for boat users.

The figures are revealed in Maritime Safety Queensland’s (MSQ) annual report, which analysed
768 marine incidents during the year.

The record fatality rate contrasted starkly with the previous year, where eight deaths were the lowest toll on record.

The report found human error was the most significant contributor, resulting in 54 percent of all recorded incidents.

The report also found recreational motorboats had the highest level of incident involvement at 30 percent, with most incidents occurring in favourable boating conditions.

Thirty-one people were reported as ending up overboard, resulting in 19 drowning.

Only 11 of those 31 had been wearing Personal Floatation Devices.

Transport Minister Rachel Nolan said people needed to take more care while on the water to avoid unnecessary incidents.

“It’s disappointing that so many of these fatal incidents were arguably foreseeable and avoidable,” Ms Nolan said.

“Boaties need to be aware that their actions or lack of action on the water can have devastating consequences.”

While shadow minister for transport Fiona Simpson agreed, she said there was a lack of policing on Queensland waters.

“There really isn’t enough police presence on the water to ensure people are doing the right thing,” she said.
“In my electorate the water police are not even based on the water but at Kawana.

“We have fought very hard to get a water police base placed at Mooloolaba Spit so they can be there when they are needed, and fortunately that will be happening in the next 12 months.”

Ms Simpson also said the Government needs to educate people more about the risks involved in boating.

“These figures show people are not taking enough care, but a lot of it comes down to lack of education about the risks,” she said.

“The Government needs ensure there is adequate education for people taking part in these activities, because at the moment there isn’t,” she said.

Six of the deaths last year in four incidents involved use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs, while one-third of the fatalities were related to extreme weather conditions.

The Maritime Safety Queensland annual report can be found at http://www.msq.qld.gov.au/Publications/Marine-incident-annual-reports.aspx

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