With more than 250,000 registered recreational boats plying the waterways of Queensland and over 830,000 Queenslanders holding licences to drive them, the recreational boating sector is a critically important component of our economy and social infrastructure.
But having that many boats and owners can raise a wide range of issues.
It is therefore vital that as government regulators, we have an ordered and reliable way of engaging with them.
The Queensland Recreational Boating Council plays an important advocacy role, which is why our officers meet regularly with the QRBC – as they did last week for a discussion on a range of maritime-related issues.
I always find the QRBC’s monthly meeting a useful way to keep in touch with the recreational boating sector, and I was pleased to see water police, marine parks representatives and the Gold Coast Waterways Authority also in attendance – it is indicative of the QRBC’s standing across government.
While the QRBC’s membership comprises of around 18 boating associations and clubs in the southeast quarter of the State, it is actively engaging with the boating community in north Queensland in an effort to provide assistance on whole-of-government or whole-of-state issues.
The range of issues discussed at QRBC meetings can be quite staggering. On Wednesday night they included progress on delivery of recreational boating infrastructure along our coastline, dredging programs and placement of navigational aids (including TMR’s switching on of new lights marking the rock wall at Manly Boat Harbour).
Outside of these ‘access’ issues we discussed regulatory requirements for lifejackets for people with disabilities, and methods of achieving compliance (it’s not as simple as you might think), compulsory third party insurance for boats, TMR’s ongoing management arrangements for the recently-stabilised Tangalooma Wrecks, and the practical application of the regulatory link between TMR’s motor vehicle and motor boat driving licences.
The only low point of the meeting was one on which we all agreed – our disappointment over reports of vandalism to some of our offshore marine parks mooring buoys.
It seems that some familiar land-based problems do not end at our low water mark. On a more positive note, repairs are being planned but they will unfortunately soak up funding that could be better used for park management and improving access for all of the boating community.
I’d like to thank the QRBC for its work in supporting our recreational boaters and look forward to future meetings.
Maritime Safety Queensland