NEWS - NSW Maritime responds to coroner's report

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Deputy State Coroner issues 15 recommendations specific to NSW Maritime

NEWS - NSW Maritime responds to coroner's report
NEWS — NSW Maritime responds to coroner’s report

NSW Maritime has released its response to the Deputy State Coroner’s recommendations following the collision between the ferry Pam Burridge and the private motor cruiser Merinda on 28 March, 2007.

The Deputy State Coroner made 24 recommendations, of which 15 were specific to NSW Maritime. According to the response, 11 of those recommendations have been given in principle support, and a further four are under review.

Four people died and eight others were injured when the Sydney Ferries Habourcat Pam Burridge collided with the Merinda, which was split in two, under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

NSW Ports and Waterways Minister, Paul McLeay said the response emphasises the NSW Government position that a combination of skills, knowledge and awareness are the key to safe boating.

"The accident on Sydney Harbour was a tragedy that touched many lives," said McLeay.

"Through our response to the Coroner’s report, I’m demonstrating the Government’s commitment to balance between boat safety regulation and education.

"This response has been developed after careful consideration of the recommendations, and extensive consultation with stakeholders.

"And it builds on the significant improvements the Government has made to create a culture of safe boating in recent years," he said.

The NSW Government said those improvements includes:
* A major upgrade to the licensing system, which now includes: A compulsory safety education course, tougher test process, and a practical boating component; and,
* Considerable work into navigation light compliance and education, with on-water compliance rates for lighting increasing to more than 95 per cent.

Eleven recommendations have been given in principle support, for which NSW Maritime said it has developed an implementation program. These relate to practical steps that can be taken to improve boating safety.

Those 11 recommendations are:
* Promote reporting of unlit vessels;
* Night lookout checklist in the handbook;
* Working with other authorities on the subject of fitting navigation lights;
* Encourage fitting of radar reflectors and devices warning crews lights are not on;
* Online complaints;
* Review the Code of Conduct for the Quay;
* Consider optimal methods of ensuring compliance with the Code;
* Increase night patrols;
* Enforce speed limits within the Cove;
* Consider speed limits in Port Jackson; and,
* Carry out a risk assessment of high speed vessels at night.

Four recommendations remain under review, and will be subject to further consultation with key boating industry stakeholders. They are:
* Extending licensing;
* Practical skills test/night training;
* Compulsory land-based navigation light check; and,
* Making the ‘50 point’ safety check compulsory.

NSW Maritime will continue to work with key boating industry stakeholders to promote safe boating on the harbour, and review the final four recommendations.
That includes:
* Maritime Ministerial Advisory Council (MMAC);
* Representatives from the NSW Boating Industry Association (BIA);
* The Commercial Vessel Association (CVA); and,
* The Boat Owners Association (BOA).

For full details on the response to the Office of the State Coroner of NSW, click on

Background information, safety initiatives on Sydney Harbour

Over the past three years, a range of new safety initiatives has been introduced and includes the following:
* A speed limit and no-anchoring area was established under the Sydney Harbour Bridge in August 2007. The area is called the Sydney Harbour Bridge Transit Zone, between lines drawn between Bennelong Point and Kirribilli Point and between Millers Point and Blues Point, excluding bays and coves. The transit zone has a 15-knot maximum speed limit.
* The Marine Safety Amendment Act 2008 passed through Parliament and came into effect with new marine safety regulations in March 2009. These regulations included the introduction of a number of new offences and increased penalties, including for vessels found operating without lawful lights. Penalties for lighting offences now range from $250 'on the spot' to $5500 through the courts.
* Night safety and compliance patrols by NSW Maritime have increased, with an average of around eight night-time patrols a month, at varying times and varying days. Lighting compliance is now more than 95 per cent. Water Police are on call 24 hours a day and conduct regular night-time patrols.
* Boating licence requirements have been toughened over recent years. There is now a compulsory education component, compulsory practical experience is required under the guidance of an experienced skipper, and the theory test has been improved.
* The NSW Boating Handbook, a night safety brochure, and the NSW Maritime website all carry additional information on night navigation.
* An online interactive navigation tool has recently been launched through a partnership with the UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution to help people understand the system of navigation signs and lights.
* A Boating Safety Education and Communication Plan 2009-2012 has been approved for delivery by NSW Maritime.
* Increased efforts have been put into building partnerships in safety. An example of this is the Boating Industry Association’s 50 Point Safety Check. This check is available to boat owners for the cost of $99 and provides an overall inspection of the boat and equipment to ensure all is seaworthy and in working condition, and that includes the vessel navigation lights.


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