Emphasis on boat safety

Boating safety on Lake Benmore, and the other Waitaki lakes, will be a priority this summer as extra staff are drafted in by Environment Canterbury to assist as enforcement officers. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Boating safety on Lake Benmore, and the other Waitaki lakes, will be a priority this summer as extra staff are drafted in by Environment Canterbury to assist as enforcement officers. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Extra enforcement officers will be patrolling the shores around the Waitaki Lakes during the holiday period to ensure there is no repeat of accidents like the one in January that left three members of a Christchurch family hospitalised following a boat collision on Lake Middleton.

To ensure a better safety standard, Environment Canterbury boating safety officers will be joined by six Waitaki-based police officers, who will be given temporary powers as enforcement officers, to educate people about boat safety.

ECan recreational boating officer Evan Walker said the boost in numbers in the area would provide added support to the boating safety team.

The six police officers had been briefed on the rules and boating safety issues in the lakes and they would actively work on education, advice and enforcement around both local bylaws and maritime rules, he said.

''The Waitaki Lakes is a very popular holiday destination with an influx of people over the Christmas period, so six extra staff to support our water safety messages will be of benefit to those using the lakes over the summer period.''

He said the combined approach ''made real sense''.

Detective Warren Duncan, of Oamaru, said the most important thing for people to do was to ''enjoy fun, safe boating'' on the area's lakes.

''Police have a focus on encouraging water safety and preventing community harm during the holiday. This is another way that we can achieve the goal of making the community safer.''

Det Duncan advised boat users to download a free copy of the local bylaws from the ECan website to help avoid incidents like the one on Lake Middleton.

On that occasion, a crash was caused when one boat failed to adhere to the lake's one-way (anti-clockwise) policy.

The police honorary enforcement officers will assist ECan volunteers from Boxing Day to January 4.

- andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz