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Published: 2013-07-04 00:00:00

People who work and play on Waikato’s waterways are being urged to spend winter learning the new navigation safety rules which came into effect on Monday (1 July).

“Our harbourmasters spoke to some people last summer who had bought a vessel but hadn’t taken the time to learn the rules before going out on the water. As a result, some of them had near misses that could very easily have ended in tragedy,” said Waikato Regional Council’s navigation safety programme manager, Nicole Botherway. 

“Much fewer people are in and on the water over the winter months, so this would be a great time to spend learning the rules.” 

The Navigation Safety Bylaw, adopted by the regional council in May, impacts recreational activities including power boating, kayaking, yachting, jetskiing and swimming. 

Mrs Botherway said the bylaw aims to improve safety for all people using the region’s popular inland and coastal waterways. 

There are general rules which apply to all water users no matter where they are in the Waikato, she said. That includes the new lifejacket rule, which requires that lifejackets must be worn when a vessel of six metres or less is underway. 

At all times a correctly-fitting lifejacket still must be carried for each person on board a vessel. 

“But there are also rules specific to individual locations, which are there to ensure the safety of everybody enjoying our waterways,” Mrs Botherway said. 

For example, there has been a change to the speed limit within proximity to shore on inland waterways. The 5 knot speed limit now applies to vessels travelling within 30 metres of the shore on inland waterways. However, there will be some exceptions in areas of the Waihou, Waipa and upper Waikato rivers, so boaties are urged to make sure they know the rules.

The bylaw provides for safe use within all navigable waters of the Waikato region, excluding Lake Taupō which is under the Department of Internal Affairs jurisdiction. 

To read the rules, visit www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/navbylaw.