A new campaign has been launched to tackle crime and improve safety on the state’s waterways.

In a major initiative aimed at reducing marine crime and bolstering safety, Crime Stoppers, the NSW Police Force’s Marine Area Command, and NSW Maritime will team up to distribute ‘Keep Safe bags’ to boating enthusiasts.

The waterproof bags – containing a series of fliers providing useful information on how to report crime and seek emergency assistance – will be mailed out to all boat owners and licence holders, waterfront residents, marine berth and mooring holders across New South Wales.

The key messages of the pamphlets are:

  • “Be safe, keep safe”: providing contact numbers for NSW Police Force and Crime Stoppers to report crime or emergencies; and
  • “You’re the skipper, you’re responsible”: providing tips for safe boating.

“This is the first major initiative for Crime Stoppers aimed at reducing marine crime and increasing marine safety. Our focus is to pilot the project in NSW, and review it and increase the program nationally,” Peter Price, Crime Stoppers’ Chief Executive Officer, said.

“There are quite a few crimes we’re targeting, including the theft of vessels, stealing from vessels, fisheries crimes, as well as drug and gun smuggling.”

NSW Police Force Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Mark Hutchings, fully supports the initiative and stressed its importance in reducing crime on the water.

“The best crime fighting tool is prevention,” Superintendent Hutchings said.

“Providing boat owners and enthusiasts with information on how they can protect themselves, their vessels and other valuables will greatly assist in our battle against crime.”

“All marine-related crime is serious and we have the capacity to deal with it.

“Some of the issues we deal with are vessel rebirthing, stolen vessels, stealing equipment from vessels, all the way through to stolen oysters and poaching of abalone.”

Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi said an important focus of the campaign was to improve safety on the state’s waterways.

“At this time of year, when there are more people out and about on the harbour, our rivers, estuaries and especially out to sea, boating safety is a priority,” he said.

“This season NSW Maritime is targeting key safety issues such as alcohol, speed, keeping a proper lookout and showing the right navigation lights at night.

“Under maritime law the skipper is responsible for the safety of their vessel and everyone on board, so it is important that skippers know about their responsibilities.”

There are some basic steps boat owners can take to protect their property from theft, including:

  • Record all details of your boat and equipment – including serial numbers – and keep this list in a safe place
  • Engrave any valuable items – you can use your driver’s licence number
  • Mark your dinghy with an identifying feature, such as your driver’s licence number
  • Fit an anti-theft device to your trailer
  • Fit a quality lock to your boat
  • Remove valuable items from your boat when you leave it unattended. If you have to leave valuables on board, ensure they are out of sight
  • Consider fitting a quality alarm to your boat.
  • Meanwhile, to ensure the safety of themselves and their passengers, police urge boating enthusiasts to:
  • Plan their trip – check equipment, weather and vessel
  • Tell somebody where they are planning on boating and when they are expecting to return
  • Don’t drink and drive – less than .05 for recreational vessel operators aged 18 years and over and a person supervising a child operator of a powered vessel
  • Keep a proper lookout at all times
  • Only carry as many people as are permitted on their boat – and make sure there are enough appropriately-sized life jackets for each person on board
  • There are mandatory pieces of safety equipment your need on the vessel – make sure you know what they are and always carry every item
  • Adhere to speed limits and other navigational signage
  • Wear the lifejacket when boating in poor weather conditions, when crossing a coastal bar, if a squall or storm approaches, or when boating alone away from immediate help
  • Know your limitations and the capabilities of your vessel – and stick to them.

The Keep Safe bags will also include special offers and discounts from key supporters of the initiative.