What are the priority areas for the Maritime Safety Plan 2026?

After a six-month consultation period with maritime partners and leading industry stakeholders, four priority areas were identified. These priority areas and the proposed countermeasures are listed below.

Safer lifejacket wear and equipment: wearing a lifejacket is the single most important action a boater can take to prevent a fatality on the water. In NSW, 7 out of 10 people who drown are not wearing a lifejacket. This focus area will seek to make it easier to understand when a lifejacket is required and take measures to encourage more people to wear lifejackets.

Stakeholder views captured at the April 2021 Maritime Safety Plan 2026 countermeasures workshop indicated that:

  • 90% agreed that current lifejacket rules for boating should be simplified
  • 82% agreed that lifejacket wear should be expanded to more boating situations than what is required by the current rules.

Proposed countermeasures:

  • Simplify and expand lifejacket-wear requirements so that the law is easier to understand, and more lives can be saved.
  • Continue to support lifejacket wear and servicing.
  • Explore opportunities to make lifejacket care and lifejacket servicing easier
  • Ensure the regulatory compliance framework reflects the importance of safety factors on our waterways.
  • Introduce minor amendments to equipment requirements and standards.

Safer boating through technology: technology offers an opportunity to improve safety, access and experience for boaters. This priority area will both make use of existing technologies and prepare for emerging technologies identified through our future technology horizon scan.

Proposed countermeasures:

  • Promote safer vessels and safer vessel technologies.
  • Simplified boating safety information digital ecosystem aimed at reducing complexity and at enhancing customer use.
  • Explore enhanced digital connectivity for on-water boaters to aid safe navigation and explore emergency contact functionality.
  • Engage with technology innovators to explore the specific innovation challenge of harnessing new data sources to enhance insights on boating activity and waterway use.
  • Investigate the potential application of aerial and marine drones for waterways’ management.
  • Ensure the policy and regulatory framework is fit for purpose to facilitate the introduction of technologies that will support safer boating

Safer waterway access and infrastructure: the NSW Government will continue the infrastructure building that has been occurring in and around NSW waterways. This area will look at how it can provide boaters with convenient access to the water for different types of craft and other on-water infrastructure that can provide for boater's safety when out on the water.

Proposed countermeasures:

  • Continue to deliver the significant program of funded projects under the Boating Now and Maritime Infrastructure Stimulus Program.
  • Continue to invest in new boating infrastructure to support safer access to the waterways and other enhancements commencing with Round 4 of the Boating Now Program.
  • Explore potential opportunities from low-cost sensor and other technologies to monitor boating infrastructure assets and to provide improved data on infrastructure condition, performance and uses.
  • Establish a long-term, sustainable dredging program to support boater access to key waterways.
  • Committed to implementing mooring and ELV reforms.
  • Implementing measures to enhance access to and protection of NSW waters.
  • Investigating the potential to expand maritime sharing economy initiatives including Maritime Short Term Rental Accommodation (MSTRA).

Growing our Safety Culture: safety on the water is a shared responsibility. This area will take actions to support and encourage boaters, the boating industry and stakeholders to work together to adopt safer boating practices.

Proposed countermeasures:

  • Enhance understanding of risks associated with boating -particularly the risks for older boaters - and how to safely manage them.
  • Facilitate education programs around right-of-way rules to ensure all users are sharing the waterways safely.
  • Introduce practical training and experience requirements to improve the skills and judgement capability of new PWC drivers.
  • Supporting increased awareness of learning and training programs could help to build further competency.
  • Develop tailored resources for new and returning boaters - incorporating key rules and safety advice.
  • Continue to deliver advice regarding the use of good judgement and to promote safe decision-making over-risk-taking behaviours, particularly with respect to managing weather and waterway conditions.
  • Investigate further whether additional safety measures are required for sailing vessel skippers.
  • We will trial emerging digital technologies to enhance the effectiveness of boater education and training.
  • Build real-time messaging capabilities near highly trafficked waterway access point to promote continuous boater judgement, including opportunities presented by QR codes.
  • We will investigate measures to improve vessels standards as well support Edition 5 of the Australian Builders Plate
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