Date: 14 April 2020
With recent rapid changes to what is permissible boating activity across the country during the COVID-19crisis,the Marina Industries Association(MIA)considersit importantthat government, industry and the wider community are aware of developments and of what has evolved as a model for limited but sustainable boating activity during the crisis. This sustainable model provides the template for all Statesto adopt and to support the $8.7b recreational boating industrywith over 28,000 direct jobs. It’s adoption will also allow permissible although carefully restricted boating activity for a limited number of the over 1 million recreational boaters in Australiaprior to the easing of social distancing and related COVID-19 restrictions.
Impact of COVID-19 on Victorian Marina Industry
Pre the pandemic the marina industry had created steadily growing 23,000plus jobs with the majority being contactor jobs1. For the wider recreational boating industry there were over 28,000 direct jobscreated.The maintenance of some level of boating activity is essential to minimize the already large number of job losses at commercial and club marinas and boatyards. Many of trades laid off such as shipwrightsand sailmakers are extremely hard to replace and may never return to the industry unless boating can be quickly re-activated.Many of Victoria’s 100’s of marina tenants may not return to the sector unless urgent action is taken to activate boating activity.
At QueenscliffHarbour there have already been 41 direct job losses. Sandringham Yacht Club for example has laid off 90 permanent and casual staff and suffered a 60% drop in revenue and this is further declining. At Westernport Marina many berth-holders are seeking a reduction in fees as they cannot use their boats and or have lost jobs. Many have said words to the effect of ‘fishing is the one salvation I need right now!’
The March –April period was of one of changing and evolving regulationby most State’s with respect to recreational boating. On April 2 the MIA and the Boating Industry Association issued a paper to assist governments, industry and boaters to find an acceptable pathway for sustainable but limited boating activity–see Joint BIA and MIA Update regarding Recreational Boating. As of April 7 all States excluding Victoria have been permitting limited recreational boating with some variations. State variations narrowed significantly leading up to April 7 as the allowances for permissible boating were applied, tested and adjusted.
Current Status re Permissible Boating
There is now a general alignment across all the States excluding Victoria. The following outlines the permissible parameters for sustainable but limited recreational boating. This provides both an economic and jobs lifelinefor industry.For the more than 1 million recreational boaters it also provides a limited but valuable window for permissible activity and or very healthy exercise within the frameworkof the overarching objectives of halting the spread of COVID-19
COVID-19 and Sustainable Parameters for Recreational Boating
Stay Home and only go out boating by observing the health advice and regulations in your State which may include:
•avoid leaving yourhome for any non-essential activity and don’t invite other people into your home
•stay at home unless you are:
-going to work or education (if you are unable to do so at home)
-getting essential supplies such as food (includes fishing in QLD, NSW and TAS) and groceries (return home without delay)
-going out on your own or with one other person or with ‘people of the same household going out together’
-take physical exercise incl. in non-powered craft such as paddling and sailing in QLD, NSW and WA. - attending medical appointments or compassionate visits
-complying with your legal obligations that includes life safety, environmental protection and property protection associated with your boat.
If you are boating for a legitimate reason in your State, you must:
•keep at least 1.5m apart from people you do not live with which includes no gathering or rafting up.
•wash your hands before and after any time there is contact with shared surfaces for example when fuelling or at any other time you come in contact with any hard surface outside the family home
•take the most direct route to the water and only boat locally
•wear a lifejacket, especially if solo•remember You’re the skipper –You’re Responsible
•follow the official advice so boating is seen as part of the solution and recovery, and not a problem to be banned.Check your State’s latest rules around permissible activities prior to any boating activity
The parameters for permissible boating have undergone numerous changes to reach this stage. They have most recently been ‘stress tested’ over the Easter period and proven to be sensibly applied by the limited number of boaters; practical for the various regulators to administer and effectively aligned to the greater objectives of bringing down the levels of COVID-19.
The limited boating activity is proving to be a lifeline for many industry businesses and jobs. It is also having very positive psychological benefits for businesses and their staff and for those in the community that can rightfully comply with restrictions and participate in limited boating activity.
The opportunity now exists for Victoria to adopt this well tested and evolved model for restricted and limited boating within parameters that are now in place across all other States.
Victoria can therefore avoid the missteps of the other States and immediately adopt this very considered model as part of its ongoing application of best practices during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief Executive Officer
Marina industries Association
Note: Links to States current COVID-19 boating regulations