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Water emergencies spark boat safety drive

Maritime Safety Queensland is appealing to boat users to take more safety precautions on the water in the wake of a series of fatalities and serious incidents across the state.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said a spate of marine incidents in recent weeks had demonstrated how quickly conditions could change on the water.

"In the past four weeks, we have seen the heartbreaking disappearance of a family of five in a boating incident in Torres Strait and more recently, the continuing search for two fishermen on a trip in Moreton Bay,” Mr Bailey said.

"Any death is one too many and tragically we have lost 11 Queenslanders this year on our waters.

"In the same period, there have been eight major incidents, including serious collisions on Moreton Bay and Manly Harbour, a close call for 11 passengers in a boat fire off the Gold Coast, and, just last week, a boat-grounding with three people on board off eastern Cape York.”

Each incident presented unique circumstances not necessarily linked with failed safety procedures, but Mr Bailey said the run of rescues showed skippers could not ignore their safety obligations.

"Simple but critical measures such as keeping a proper lookout, ensuring you have the correct safety equipment, staying under .05 and checking the weather can literally save lives,” Mr Bailey said. 

"Maritime Safety Queensland understands this and conducts extensive education and enforcement activities with Queensland Water Police and Queensland Boating and Fisheries patrols.

“Perhaps the most important message is ensuring there’s a lifejacket for everyone on board. All passengers should know where they are or be wearing them and know how to use them.

“It's just common sense to ensure everyone is wearing a properly fitting lifejacket whenever there is a heightened risk such as poor weather, boating alone or at night, or operating in busy shipping lanes.

“If you are going any distance off shore, check whether you are required to carry an EPIRB and make sure it’s properly registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

“And always let someone such as your local volunteer rescue group, know when you’re leaving, your destination and when you’re due back. 

“Check the weather before you leave and keep checking while you’re on the water.

“Be prepared for sudden unexpected weather changes and at the first sign of deteriorating weather make sure everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket if they haven’t already got one on.

“Have an alternative plan to reach shelter if you can’t get back to your usual mooring or boat ramp and ensure you have enough fuel to get there.

“But most importantly, if in doubt – don’t go out.

“You’re the skipper – you’re responsible.”

Mr Bailey said Maritime Safety Queensland staff would be pushing the safety message at one Australia's premier marine events, the Brisbane Boat Show, in Brisbane today.

For more information on safe boating, visit

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