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2023 busiest year for boat rescues on record

MARINE Rescue NSW has completed its busiest year on record with 4,786 search and rescue missions across the state in 2023, as favourable weather lures boaters onto waterways.

All six regions with Marine Rescue NSW units had a record number of rescues in 2023, including the Northern Rivers, Mid North Coast, Hunter/Central Coast, Greater Sydney, Illawarra and Monaro.

Surpassing last year’s record figure, the volunteer water rescue organisation safely returned 10,645 people to shore in an 18 per cent increase in rescue missions across the state’s coastal and inland waterways.

Lake Macquarie was the busiest area for rescue missions across NSW, while a quarter of the Botany Port Hacking unit’s 400 missions were emergency responses.

The Botany Port Hacking unit covers a challenging area including Botany Bay, Georges River, Port Hacking and 30 nautical miles offshore where a large volume of traffic and variable conditions can lead to boaters and paddlers needing assistance.

In its first Budget, the Minns Labor Government made a record $73 million commitment to support the vital work of Marine Rescue NSW and its 3,300 volunteers.

The significant four-year investment will bolster Marine Rescue NSW’s fleet, including new multi-purpose and rescue vessels and the refurbishment of other rescue vessels, as well as fund new bases at Stockton and Middle Harbour. 

More than 80,000 trips were logged with Marine Rescue NSW in 2023, almost 16,500 more than the previous year.

Marine Rescue NSW radio operators had a busy 2023, managing 258,742 radio calls – or a call every two minutes – with a large number managed by the 24/7 Marine Rescue NSW State Communications Centre at Belrose.

More than half the incidents in 2023 could potentially have been avoided with better boat maintenance, with 57 per cent of calls for mechanical, battery or fuel issues.

Boat users are urged to follow these steps to stay safe this boating season:

·        Log On and Off with Marine Rescue via VHF Channel 16 or use the free Marine Rescue NSW app available for iOS and Android devices.

·        Make sure everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket.

·        Make sure your vessel’s engine and battery are working.

·        Make sure you have enough fuel and some in reserve.

·        Always check conditions and safety equipment.

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