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Hong Kong Announces Progress In Mitigating Marine Accidents

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

21 July 2009

The Hong Kong government’s marine department has announced that its Safety Afloat Campaign has achieved its desired impact. The number of marine accidents involving swimmers and boaters fell significantly in 2008, according to Director of Marine, Roger Tupper.

Speaking at the Safety Afloat Educational Seminar, Tupper revealed that the number of rescue cases at gazetted beaches with lifeguards on duty fell from 128 in 2007 to 95 in 2008 while reported accidents involving pleasure vessels, banana boats and jet-skis decreased from 45 in 2007 to 29 in 2008, despite the growing enthusiasm for water sports.

The fourth Safety Afloat Educational Seminar was held to promote safety awareness and canvass views from boating communities on how to do the right things better in a rapidly growing marine recreational environment.

"The significant reduction in the number of rescue cases and accident cases is encouraging and proves that our campaign has achieved the desired impact. However, we should not be complacent, this year's campaign needs to be sustained to ensure that the message of safety first continues to reach the public loud and clear," he said.

Marine safety measures are ineffective without the awareness and cooperation of boaters and swimmers, Tupper urged, stating: "To ensure the safety of people and boats, [persons] must be very careful and sensitive to a variety of challenging weather conditions such as tropical storms, local thunderstorms, heavy rain and fog which can adversely affect both boat steering and swimming safety.

"People should always check the boat they are using or hiring, and keep aware of other activities taking place in the vicinity."

"They should have knowledge and awareness of how to raise the alarm or appropriate warning signal if something happens or any irregularity is observed."

To assist the public to better understand marine safety issues, the Marine Department has organised a series of educational seminars and promotional campaigns.

A TV/radio API will be relaunched during summer in order to disseminate marine safety messages to the general public; the boating communities in particular.

On the frontline, the combined fleets of the Marine Police and the Marine Department will continue to step up their patrol activities in the vicinity of the speed restricted zones and the water areas surrounding popular gazetted beaches and water sports sites.

A series of anti-speeding operations against illegal or reckless boating activities which may endanger other boaters in the vicinity and the safety of swimmers in designated swimming zones will also be mounted.

"I am confident that with these measures, together with the full co-operation of boaters and support from the general public, we will be able to enhance water sports safety in this summer season and the years to come," Tupper said.

"Hong Kong will not only continue to be one of the busiest commercial ports in the world, but also a safe and exciting area for marine leisure activities."

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