Boaties speeding around boat ramps, failing to wear lifejackets and breaching other rules on the lower Waikato River near Port Waikato have regional council harbourmasters concerned about safety.

“Speeding around boat ramps and not wearing lifejackets has been seen in the area, particularly at Hoods Landing,” says local harbourmaster Toby Kemp.

The council has deployed two floats reminding people of the 5 knot speed limit near ramps to try to remind boaties to slow down.

“We are well into whitebaiting season which is increasing the number of people on the water,” says Mr Kemp.

“Any unsafe behaviour can potentially have serious consequences, not just for the skipper but for the skipper’s family and friends, and members of the public generally.”

He reminded boaties that the Waikato region has one of the country’s highest per capita number of annual drownings related to vessels under six metres.

“Preventing such tragedies is why we have navigation safety rules in place and we ask that all river users stick to them” says Mr Kemp.

Further complaints to the council relate to a number of derelict structures found on the lower regions of the river, which are a potential navigation hazard. An operation to remove these structures will commence later this year. The council will put notices on them saying owners who object have a month to contact the council before removal begins.

People who witness unsafe behaviour, or come across derelict structures floating in the region’s waterways, can contact Waikato Regional Council harbourmasters on 0800 800 401. Information on boating rules is available at www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/Services/Regional-services/Navigation-safety/Rules-and-Safety/ or download the Marine Mate app for smart phone.