Boating safety representatives from Australia and around the world agreed this week in Sydney to a set of new principles promoting lifejacket use.
The International Lifejacket Wear Principles set out a series of commitments aimed at improving the use and ubiquity of lifejackets on marine vessels.
The principles were agreed to by representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France and the United Kingdom – nations where four out of five drowning victims aren’t wearing a lifejacket.
They and others were gathered at the Marine13 International Conference and Exhibition, held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 28-30.
NSW Office of Boating Safety and Maritime Affairs general manager Howard Glenn announced the agreement today (May 2), saying that the organisations involved would henceforth engage in improved cross-border co-ordination.
“The main aim of the principles is to promote lifejacket use and to normalise it by encouraging boating media around the world to show people wearing lifejackets in small boats,” said Mr Glenn in a statement.
The principles include a commitment to use the term ‘lifejacket’ in public information and education media, to recognise the importance of promoting lifejacket use while boating and to require on-water education and compliance staff to always wear the devices while on the water.
Mr Glenn said that while signatories were not obligated in any way by the principles, the agreement “sets a benchmark for boating safety promotion around the world”.
“Signatories to the principles believe international unity behind the promotion of wearing lifejackets will help strengthen and clarify the importance of lifejackets across all jurisdictions,” Mr Glenn said.
According to Transport for NSW, of the 88 people that drowned as a result of recreational vessel accidents between 2002-03 and 2011-12, less than seven per cent were wearing a lifejacket at the time.
Even when wearing these floatation devices however, it is possible to be injured seriously on marine vessels.
Falls within a vessel accounted for nearly six per cent of all non-fatal boating incidents where someone was injured seriously during the period 2002-03 to 2011-12.
Those injured as a result of a fall or slip in a boat may be able to seek public liability injury compensation.