Queenslanders urged to heed boating safety messages

Marine report reveals alarming spike in the number of fatalities.

The number of Queensland boating fatalities hit a 20-year high in 2019, sparking calls for boaties to heed safety messages when on the water.

The 2019 Marine Incident Report revealed 18 people died after incidents in Queensland waters last year, the highest number in two decades.

Three people died of traumatic injuries, one of an exacerbated pre-existing condition, and 14 drowned or are presumed to have drowned. 

Those who died ranged in age from nine to 71 years and included 16 males and two females.

Of the 14 who drowned or were lost at sea, only one was known to have been wearing a lifejacket.

The reported incidents involved 412 Queensland registered recreational vessels and 31 Queensland registered commercial vessels resulting in 109 injuries, with 37 people admitted to hospital.

The most commonly reported incidents were collisions between ships, collisions with objects, groundings and capsizes.

Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) recommendswearing lifejackets at all times, however it is only compulsory when crossing a designated coastal bar in an open boat  less than 4.8m long, or if you are under 12 years old in a moving open boat that is less than 4.8m.

MSQ General Manager Angus Mitchell said MSQ had stepped up its efforts to check safety equipment on boats and monitor the unlicensed operation of vessels.

“Late last year, MSQ established the Marine Enforcement Team to carry out on-water, education and compliance operations,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Along with Queensland Police, Boating and Fisheries Patrol, and Parks and Wildlife, they’ve conducted joint campaigns … (which) have intercepted hundreds of boat users in targeted operations, with the aim of raising awareness of boating rules which may differ from state to state, and generally reminding people of their responsibilities on the water.” 

Before you hit the water

  • Check your boat is in good condition.
  • Check that you have all the required safety equipment on board and that it is easily accessible.
  • Let someone know where you are going, how many people are on board and when you intend to return.
  • Make sure you have the correct marine licence.
  • Know how to use your marine radio and which channels to use.
  • Check the weather before you go out. 
  • Make sure you have enough water and fuel for the whole trip.
  • Know the rules of the sea-road and follow them.
  • Wear your lifejacket.