Friday, March 1, 2024
Boating Bits

Fishing No.1 boating activity

THE National Marine Safety Committee (NMSC) has released an Australian first, the National Boating Usage Study Preliminary Survey Report that provides statistical information on boating behaviour and attitudes to safety.

The NMSC’s National Boating Usage Study recruited 3,800 boaties from across Australia to participate in the survey and fill in a trip diary from October, 2008 to March 31, 2010. The NMSC’s survey report is the first stage of the study and analyses survey data provided by 2818 boaters.

NMSC CEO Margie O’Tarpey said that this type of report on boating usage is vital, considering that there are about 1 million recreational craft using Australia’s waterways.

“The large number of craft that we have in Australia increases the potential for accidents and our data shows that 346 people lost their lives in Australian waters since 1999 and thousands more were injured.

“This study will better inform the NMSC and its stakeholders such as marine safety agencies, boating industry associations and the NMSC’s Australia New Zealand Safe Boating Education Group when developing marine safety policy and education materials.”

The study found that:


*The most popular types of boats are the cuddy/half cabin cruiser and open runabouts with 29 per cent and 26 per cent of responses.

*57 per cent of respondents indicated they had a boat between 5 and 9.9 metres in length.

*30 per cent of respondents indicated they operated a boat less than 5 metres in length.


*Fishing is the main activity for 60 per cent of participants and other activities included cruising and water skiing, racing, diving and live aboard.

*Almost half of respondents mostly operate their boats in bays and sheltered waters and almost one third of boaters mainly operate their boats in open waters.

*Almost half of participants have a boat less than 5 years old.

*95 per cent of boaters use their boats in December and January. Only one third of boaters use their boats in June and July.

*Almost 40 per cent of boaters use their boats 2 to 3 times per month. Almost half of respondents spend 3 to 5 hours on the water when they use their boats.


*95 per cent of boaters had a recreational boat licence.

*39 per cent of boaters have held their boat licence for more than 15 years.

*Almost half of respondents have owned a boat for more than 15 years.

*Half of the respondents indicated they have undertaken a boating education course.


*PFDS are worn occasionally by 62 per cent of boaters.

*29 per cent of participants wear a PFD when in poor weather. A further 29 per cent of participants have children under the age of 12 wear a PFD.

*PFDs are carried on board 98 per cent of boats.

*Almost 40 per cent of boaters never test their EPIRB; 10 per cent of boaters test their EPIRB before each trip.

*Expiry dates of safety equipment are regularly checked by 94 per cent of boaters.

*5 per cent of boaters had experienced a boating incident in the previous twelve months.

*26 per cent of these incidents involved a collision with another boat or object; 24 per cent of the incidents involved the boat being grounded, flooded or capsizing.

“These figures bring up a myriad of safety and usage issues and in relation to PFD usage, even though PFDs are carried by 98 per cent of boats, PFDs are only worn occasionally by the majority of boaters,” said O’Tarpey.

“PFD wearing regulations vary from state to state, however this may be an issue for our Australia New Zealand Safe Boating Education Group to look at in relation to PFD wearing education.

“It is also interesting to note that the information on boating incidents reported in the study as to the prevalence of collisions, groundings and capsize is similar to information that we have from our National Incident Database.”

In relation to information on boaters, 94 per cent of boaters were males and the biggest single age group was 35 – 50 years old, with 21 per cent of participants falling in the 61 years and over age group.

To obtain a copy of the full report please contact the NMSC Secretariat on (02) 9247 2124 or download it from and click on research and policy/manual and reports.


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