No change to best practice or safety procedures

The RYA has responded cautiously to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) search and rescue statistics for 2006 which show no increase in the proportion of fatalities recorded for recreational craft.

23 leisure boating deaths were recorded by the MCA during 2006 and 19 were recorded over a 10 month period in 2005. The figures equate to 6% of the total number of fatalities associated with inland and coastal waters. There were 371 deaths recorded during 2006 ( 378 in 2005) of which 124, or 33%, were attributable to maritime activities. These include commercial shipping and fishing, as well as other recreational activities such as sea angling and sub-aqua diving.

The RYA collaborated with the MCA on data interpretation of the 2006 leisure boating data, confirming that has confirmed that there are no significant trends behind the data, such as excessive use of alcohol. Consequently, the RYA will not be changing any of its current advice on safety and good practice afloat.

‘Working closely with the MCA has enabled both organisations to get a clearer picture of what the accident reports are actually telling us,’ says RYA Training Manager, James Stevens. ‘While there’s no hiding from the personal tragedies that each fatality represents, there is no evidence in the data we’ve looked at to undermine our belief that education, rather than legislation, remains the best way to promote boating safety. Neither is there any evidence to suggest that leisure
boating should be subject to additional regulations and licensing.’

The 23 leisure boating fatalities recorded last year include two incidents involving stolen craft as well as the loss of the yacht Ouzo, where three men died in a single incident. Most other leisure fatalities involved people falling from dinghies, canal boats or yachts.

The fatality statistics should be viewed in the context of participation data which shows that more than 3.7million people go boating in the UK, out of 13.8 million who regularly engage in water-related activities including coastal walking.