Marine Rescue NSW has completed its busiest year on record with 481 search and rescue missions carried out across the Illawarra region.
The missions included 245 emergency responses with 1091 people safely returned to shore across all seven Illawarra units from Port Kembla in the north to Kioloa in the south.
A MRNSW spokesperson said Port Kembla carried out 169 missions, including 112 emergencies with 339 people safely returned to shore, while the Jervis Bay unit had 111 missions including 30 emergencies with 251 people returned to shore.
In 2023 three of the seven Illawarra units, which include Port Kembla, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Jervis Bay, Sussex Inlet, Ulladulla and Kioloa set new search and rescue mission records.
Sussex Inlet was the standout, with 60 missions – up from 57 in 2022 – including 17 emergencies.
MRNSW units around the state completed 4786 search and rescue missions over the past 12 months, an 18 per cent increase on last year.
More than 80,000 trips were logged with Marine Rescue NSW in 2023, almost 16,500 more than the previous year.
More than half the incidents in 2023 could potentially have been avoided with better boat maintenance, with 57 per cent of calls for mechanical, battery or fuel issues.
Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Darren Schott said almost one third of incidents last year were emergencies such as capsized boats, missing people, groundings and fires on vessels.
“Response times for these incidents is reduced dramatically if a boater is logged on with Marine Rescue NSW,” he added.
“We ask all boaters to ensure that they check their vessel’s engine and battery every time they plan to head out on the water.
“Mechanical and fuel issues can quickly become life-threatening emergencies on the water, so make sure you have enough fuel and some in reserve.”
Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said volunteers answered calls night and day to keep boaters safe on our waterways.
“I commend them on everything they have done over the busiest year for Marine Rescue yet,” he said.
“After boating seasons have been impacted by wet weather brought on by La Nina, as well as COVID lockdowns, more people are now taking the opportunity to get out on our beautiful waterways and enjoy the warmer weather.
“I encourage people to enjoy our coastline and inland waterways safely, and by logging on and off with Marine Rescue our volunteers will be in a position to respond if things don’t go to plan.
“It is pleasing to see that over the past 12 months there has been an increase of 16,500 boaters using Marine Rescue’s free log-on service with more than 80,000 trips logged last year.”