Rotorua Police and the Rotorua Lakes Harbourmaster are calling on people to take more care when enjoying the region's lakes and waterways, following several serious, but avoidable, accidents in recent weeks.
Even though the poor weather has resulted in fewer people on the water so far this summer, there has already been an increase in the number of infringements issued to boaties and jet skiers for breaching bylaws.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Rotorua Lakes Harbourmaster, Pererika Makiha said irresponsible and reckless behaviour on the water has had tragic results, with one fatality and one serious incident involving jet skiers.
“Despite all the warnings, and our best efforts to educate people, a small minority of people are still putting lives at risk,” Mr Makiha said.
“We are still finding boaties that are towing skiers without observers; exceeding 5 knots within 50 metres of another boat, jet ski, kayak or swimmer; and speeding inside 5 knot areas.
“With the more serious cases, we work with the police in an attempt to keep people safe.”
Rotorua Police Detective Sergeant John Wilson said any behaviour warranting the intervention of the Police or the Harbourmaster, and is of a serious nature, will result in either infringement action or, if appropriate, charges being brought.
“On the same day that the tragic fatality occurred on Lake Ohakuri, there was a collision between two jet skis on Lake Ōkāreka which left one man unconscious in the water,” Detective Sergeant Wilson said.
“As a result of police inquiries into the collision on Lake Ōkāreka, two Rotorua men now face charges under the Maritime Transport Act. This collision would almost certainly have been fatal if the man knocked off his jet ski had not been wearing a lifejacket.”
Detective Sergeant Wilson said a decision on potential charges arising from the tragedy on Lake Ohakuri is still being considered.
Mr Makiha said he was encouraged to see that many boaties and jet skiers are getting the message about wearing life jackets.
“Skiers are reminded that wetsuits are not a substitute for a lifejacket and that the minimum requirement when using a stand-up paddle board is that a leg leash is attached to both the board and person.”
For more information or to download a copy of the Bay of Plenty Navigational Safety Bylaw 2010 please visit www.boprc.govt.nz/environment/water/navigation-safety/