Sea safety sinks

Whitsunday Times - - YOUR SAY -

I HAVE been at sea and on the high seas proper for most of my life.

The stan­dard that is set by the au­thor­i­ties now is so low it has be­come the root cause of tragedy at sea.

In bad weather con­di­tions there is no room for er­ror.

Thirty to 40 years ago, in or­der to sit for an ex­am­i­na­tion to be mas­ter of a fish­ing trawler a min­i­mum of five years of sea time was re­quired that en­com­passed 24/7 life on the high seas.

Nowa­days eight hours a day work­ing in a bay or en­closed area like the Great Bar­rier Reef is con­sid­ered sat­is­fac­tory and if the au­thor­i­ties had their way no sea time would be re­quired at all.

Safety at sea in smaller ships like this is over­seen by men who sit be­hind desks all day and call the shots but couldn’t save them­selves if they tried.

As the fish­ing in­dus­try col­lapsed the stan­dard dropped to the ex­tent that al­most no sea time is re­quired.

Why? Be­cause there is nowhere left in Aus­tralian wa­ters where you can ob­tain the nec­es­sary ocean ex­pe­ri­ence to op­er­ate a ship safely in all con­di­tions.

There are thou­sands of peo­ple out there with cer­tifi­cates of com­pe­tency who have no idea how to op­er­ate a small ship safely in in­clement weather and un­savoury con­di­tions and I mix with some of them ev­ery day.

Ex­pect these tragedies to con­tinue and in­crease. Boat­ing is like ABC – un­til the go­ing gets tough, then ev­ery­thing goes to hell.

— Pa­trick Von Stieglitz,

Air­lie Beach

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