Safety urged on the river this summer

STAYING safe on the River Derwent at New Norfolk is the subject of a new education campaign launched this week by MAST (Marine and Safety Tasmania), the Derwent Valley Council and various stakeholder groups to reduce anti-social activity and ensure waterway users are aware of the rules.

MAST and the Derwent Valley Council formed a working group with key stakeholders to help address some on-water issues. The council has also been working with Tasmania Police focusing on a spate of vandalism and other on-land anti-social behaviour seen recently. MAST chief exectutive Lia Morris said the working group had successfully come to agreement about the need for safety. “Safety is the major priority for MAST and the Derwent Valley Council,” Ms Morris said.

“The River Derwent at New Norfolk is an extremely popular waterway for many forms of craft – ski boats, rowing shells, jet skis, paddle boards and skis. People need to take responsibility for themselves and be conscious of what is happening around them, particularly around boat ramps and rowing ways where traffic density is high,” Ms Morris said.

Derwent Valley Council mayor Michelle Dracoulis said access to activities on the water was important to the local community. “It’s important that everyone can use the river and that these activities can continue as safely as possible,” Councillor Dracoulis said.

“The council is very focused on making sure the river is used properly and safely for the entire community of New Norfolk and the many visitors who come to the Valley. All river users have the right to feel safe, whether they’re swimming, skiing, rowing or using the pontoons.,” Cr Dracoulis said.

Senior Sergeant Justin Lawson, from the Marine and Rescue Services division of Tasmania Police, said a number of infringements were issued last summer for various boating offences between Millbrook Rise and the old boat ramp near the caravan park. “This year, as with all waterways in Tasmania, the public will see a police presence,” Sergeant Lawson said.

The current rules of use for the waterway at New Norfolk are:

  • 5 Knots from caravan park upstream – no turning for water sport activities past that point.
  • If paddling, keep as far as practical to the right hand side of the river as possible (regardless of the direction of travel)
  • Swimmers be conscious of boats, keep close to shore
  • Designated Ski area from Sorell Creek to caravan park– https://mast.tas.gov.au/safe-navigation/aquatic-events-designated-ski-areas/     (5 knots unless towing a skier)
  • Always tow in anticlockwise direction
  • Paddle craft are encouraged to paddle upstream of the caravan park ramp in the 5 knot zone on busy days to avoid interactions with skiers
  • Jet Skis are not permitted to exceed 5 knots within the designated ski area unless they are towing a skier

For more information about the area’s rules of use visit www.mast.tas.gov.au.

Picture: Cr Michelle Dracoulis, left, with MAST recreational boating safety officer Keegan Higgs, and Senior Constable Rachel McKay of the Tasmania Police marine division.

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