MNZ hosts U.S. Coast Guard Chief
Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 45, December 2013
The visit provided an opportunity for the two agencies to share boat safety initiatives and discuss the challenges associated with their programmes’ success and effectiveness.
The discussions revealed that both agencies face many of the same issues and experiences within the recreational boating area.
“While there are significant differences between the United States and New Zealand in many ways, when you just focus on people going out on boats, the issues are remarkably similar,” said MNZ Director Keith Manch.
“But the scale of the United States recreational boating sector and the number of people engaged in this activity means that there is an enormous amount of experience in the United States that we can learn from. Reducing fatalities, injuries and property losses in recreational boating are objectives for both agencies when it comes to safety initiatives,” said Keith.
In the country from 3–8 September, Jeff’s visit included participating in the National Pleasure Boat Safety Forum meeting, and presenting at the International Water Safety and Aquatic Education Conference in Queenstown.
He also presented to members of the maritime industry in Wellington, discussing the management of the National Recreational Boating Safety Program in the United States, where nearly 76 million people are involved in recreational boating.
The programme was established after data showed the number of recreational boating deaths had been relatively stagnant for 13 years, driving the USCG to find and implement initiatives that reduced deaths at a more aggressive pace.
Schemes to increase lifejacket wear (particularly on motorboats), enhance compliance with navigation rules, and reduce boating under the influence were just some of the programme’s methods to achieve their five-year targets in reducing injuries, deaths and casualties.
Jeff also praised MNZ – noting the success of the “Don’t be a clown – wear a lifejacket” campaign, and the commitment from staff to promoting safety in the recreational boating sector.
“I was so impressed by the expertise of your entire staff, and the passion with which so many in your community strive to improve maritime and water safety for the benefit of the public,” said Jeff.
“You have an exceptional programme and the opportunity to engage with MNZ has provided the USCG and myself with a wealth of information to assist in our efforts – along with a lifetime of wonderful memories.”
Jeff Hoedt was appointed as Chief, Boating Safety Division of USCG in October 2007. His responsibilities include providing the guidance and leadership required to carry out the development, coordination and implementation of the National Recreational Boating Safety (RBS) Program and to oversee the Coast Guard’s efforts at reducing fatalities, injuries and property losses in recreational boating in the United States.
Jeff Hoedt speaking at the Water Safety New Zealand conference in Queenstown in September.