Maritime NZ recently released some interesting statistics and warned Kiwis about being too complacent during the current Covid-19 situation.
A Maritime NZ spokesman says that with people travelling within New Zealand due to COVID there is a heightened risk that more people will be going boating possibly for the first time so are unprepared or inexperienced.
This is supported by marine industry data which shows boat sales are up in a big way because people can’t travel overseas. Also, there has been a 30% rise in people boating in Australia, probably mostly because of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is likely to be reinforcing the trend seen in recreational boating survey data that more people than ever are participating and increasing diversity.
Maritime NZ’s annual survey of recreational boaties, conducted by research firm Ipsos, shows that approximately 1.7 million Kiwis are involved in recreational boating and using an increasingly diverse array of watercraft. That’s around one in every two Kiwis (45% of all New Zealanders) – the first increase in four years.
The survey shows that paddling now has the highest level of participation in NZ’s waters. Powerboating is the second most popular activity, and safety continues to be a concern with those in boats under 6m.
The survey shows that while most boaties (84%) rate safety as important, there is still work to ensure everyone keeps themselves safe. Around 20% still report that they wear a lifejacket either never, not very often, or only some of the time and one in four reports that they never, not every often, or only some of the time check the marine or mountain forecast before going out on the water.
Provisional statistics* show 14 people have died in recreational boating accidents in New Zealand waters in the year to date (as at Dec 8 2020). Twenty-two people died in 2019, up from four deaths in 2018. In 2017 there were 19 fatalities, 13 in 2016, and 24 in 2015—[* statistics can change according to coronial findings].
Key risk factors for recreational boaties are failure to wear lifejackets all the time; inability to communicate for help when an accident happens; failure to check the weather forecast before going out; and alcohol use.
The Executive Director of the NZ Marine Industry Association, Peter Busfield added that International travel used to be the boating markets biggest competitor. With that now on hold, boating is taking off!
“In addition to record boat sales, we are seeing record employment of apprentices to build the boats that are being sold – a win-win for New Zealand. While boat sales dropped 95% during April to June – boat sales July to November were double compared to the same time last year and this more than compensated for the earlier drop”, says Busfield.
Industry reports show that 2020 is already ahead of 2019 sales, with order books filling up production for 2021.
“Ninety percent of trailer powerboats sold in New Zealand are made in New Zealand by over 60 manufacturers. These manufacturers and their retailers are experiencing record sales, and this is evidenced by the increase of apprenticeships signed-up over the last four months – 170 in the four months to November 2020 compared with 40 in the same period last year” added Busfield