Water Police will be out in force this Easter long weekend to enforce COVID-19 restrictions after already handing out more than $10,000 in fines.
Water Police will be out in force this Easter long weekend to enforce COVID-19 restrictions after already handing out more than $10,000 in fines.

Boaties cop huge fines for violating COVID-19 rules

MORE than $10,000 in fines have been handed out to boaties around Queensland for violating COVID-19 restrictions, prompting a strong presence from Water Police this Easter long weekend.

The four-day weekend is usually one of the busiest times of the year around the state with boaties flooding the waters for recreational purposes.

But that is expected to change after the Queensland Government banned boating during the coronavirus pandemic, except for people who are fishing for food and only two people allowed on a boat.

However, a Queensland Police Service spokesman said Water Police have committed significant resources to patrolling the waters, especially in Moreton Bay, this Easter.

"It is hoped that everyone will adhere to the directives of the Chief Health Officer and stay home unless it is necessary to be out on the water," the spokesman said.

Queensland Water Police out in Moreton Bay.
Queensland Water Police out in Moreton Bay.

"Most people are doing the right thing however eight people on the water have been issued fines in relation to the Home Confinement, Movement and Gathering Direction issued by the Chief Health Officer.

"On the spot fines of $1334 for individuals and $6,672 for corporations, which fail to abide by the health directions can be issued."

While police have issued a strong warning, the people responsible for rescuing boaties in distress have still had to save more than 12 vessels, who were not following the instructions during the outbreak.

"So far, since this COVID-19 outbreak started, (the) Coast Guard has noted less boat traffic on the bay but boats are still ignoring the restrictions and going out for non-essential purposes with more than two people aboard," Harvey Shore, from the Brisbane Coast Guard Manly Flotilla, said.

"As usual, some of these boats break down.

Brisbane Coast Guard Coxswain Harvey Shore. Picture: AAP/Renae Droop
Brisbane Coast Guard Coxswain Harvey Shore. Picture: AAP/Renae Droop

"Since the outbreak, Coast Guard has been called to assist over a dozen vessels containing three or more people, which have broken down in Moreton Bay.

"We're hoping to see less of that behaviour over Easter, but we're prepared to assist as usual in case it continues.

"Coast Guard volunteers have been classed as Emergency Service Workers by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, and have been authorised to continue their work keeping boaties safe over Easter.

"Therefore, despite the obvious dangers from infection, Coast Guard volunteers from Brisbane Coast Guard in Manly Boat Harbour and from flotillas in Redland Bay and elsewhere in Moreton Bay will be on duty over the Easter holidays and will respond to all calls for assistance on the water as usual."

Moreton Bay fishing expert Spero Kartanos also warned boaties, who were thinking of going out for a fish over the long weekend, not only because of the restrictions but because of the conditions forecasted on the water.

"I can't see that many boats out on the water as the weather predictions are terrible, apart from Good Friday, the rest of the four-day break looks bleak," he said.

"There hasn't been a lot of boats out compared to normal years of school holidays except the prawning fraternity. I went out to sea for the first time this week and there were 200 boats with hundreds casting nets getting prawns in front of Nudgee Beach.

"Police were there going around but I didn't see them approach any boat but if there was only two people a boat, then that is legal.

"In my mind as long as you follow the rules and you can go catch a fish for dinner, then get out there for a day because I think our sanity is also important."

Originally published as Qld boaties fined more than $10k for violating COVID-19 rules