In The Mix

Australia is the largest island continent on the planet with a coastal circumference of just under 60,000kms including our offshore islands.[1] Sea life, in an historical, recreational and a business sense is indelibly marked upon the country’s psyche, with population distribution concentrated along the coastal ribbon of the continent. In short, offshore waters, as well as onshore and inland waterways are a part of our way of life stretching back as far as indigenous transmigrations, The Cook Voyage and The First Fleet. Our economic, financial and recreational existence is closely aligned with shipping, water transport and water services and boating.

Since 1992, maritime accidents and fatalities have cost Australia over one billion dollars.[2] But what are the causes of these accidents and fatalities, and how can we continue to monitor and prevent them in the current millennium?

The popular perception of Junger’s “Perfect Storm”[3] or a heroic battle with the elements such as that depicted in “The Old Man and the Sea” is often woven into our idea about maritime experience and maritime accidents, and yet, the reality is starkly different. In Australia, “most maritime incidents occur in favourable environmental conditions…with 71% occurring in wind conditions classified as none to moderate and 77% occurring in calm to moderate seas.”  Structural boat problems – often thought to be an issue – do not even rate as a major issue and at most, account for only 2% of fatalities and from the period 1998 to 2004. [4]

In 2004, the Australian Maritime Safety Committee released troubling findings in relation to the part played by alcohol and drugs in our fatal maritime accidents. Alarmingly, as the study’s author, Professor Peter O’Connor gleaned, “the initial contributing factor in 74% of incidents was a human cause, and alcohol continues to exist as a key factor in these.”[5] The report went on to conclude that:

  • Alcohol continues to be the primary risk factor. Forty seven percent of vessel operators were positive for alcohol and 40% of those killed were positive for alcohol. Twenty two percent of those killed had a BAC in excess of 0.05 gm/100ml demonstrating that alcohol is as much a problem in boating deaths as it is in road deaths. Alcohol was the main factor explaining why people fall overboard.
  • The results indicate the needs for increased surveillance and control of alcohol and drug use among the boating public.

CMM Technology is able to assist with the accurate surveillance and control of AOD use in a maritime and sea setting. Call CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500.

[1] Australian Government Geoscience Website.

[2] National Assessment of Boating Fatalities in Australia 1999 – 2004. Prepared for the National Marine Safety Committee Inc. by Associate Professor  Dr. Peter O’Connor May 2008

[3] Junger, Sebastian. The Perfect Storm. W.W. Norton and Company, Publishers 1997.

[4] National Assessment of Boating Fatalities in Australia 1999 – 2004. Prepared for the National Marine Safety Committee Inc. by Associate Professor  Dr. Peter O’Connor May 2008

[5] Ibid.

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