Boating fees at work

In 2019-2021, Transport for NSW collected over $66 million in boat driver licences, vessel registration and mooring licence fees from the State's 586,599 licensed boaters (including PWC riders) and 250,405 boat and PWC registration holders.

These fees are paid into the Waterways Fund which contributes to service delivery reforms identified in the Government's Maritime Safety Plan 2017-2021, Maritime Infrastructure Plan 2019-2014 and Transport for NSW's contribution to the Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018-2028.

These combined initiatives represent the NSW Government's commitment to on-water safety, access infrastructure and environmental outcomes on the water.

Boating safety education, enforcement and investigations

  • Boating safety education and compliance campaigns and programs to encourage a safe boating culture, and promote the wearing of lifejackets.
  • Production and distribution of the Boating Handbook - a guide to safe boating across NSW.
  • Boating accident investigations conducted to understand the cause of boating incidents enforce safety laws, and guide safety improvements.
  • Transport for NSW's boating safety officers work closely with safety partners from the NSW Police Marine Command and Marine Rescue NSW, and also NSW Port Authority staff.
  • In 2019-2020, boating safety officers conducted 51,578 boating safety checks, issued 4,970 Official Cautions and 2,175 penalty notices, achieving an overall compliance rate of 86.6 percent. A total of 288 boating incidents were investigated.
  • In 2019-2020, Boating Education Officers (BEO) engaged with 39,980 customers at boat ramps, during major and local community events, at schools and during club, retailer and stakeholder visits.

NSW Boating Now

  • NSW Boating Now has allocated $98 million to more than 300 projects for new and improved recreational boating infrastructure and improved public access to waterways. This includes public boat ramps, jetties, pontoons, dinghy storage and car/trailer parking at boating facilities.
  • Additional funding has also been provided for other boating projects and initiatives such as slipways, riverbank erosion management and off-street boat trailer parking to name a few.
  • Transport for NSW continues to work closely with local councils, boating organisations, community groups and other agencies to deliver the program.

Navigation maintenance and mooring management

  • A network of around 3,757 navigation markers, including lights and buoys are maintained to support safe navigation and identify hazards across coastal and inland waterways.
  • A system of 23 'bar crossing' safety cameras enable boaters to check conditions before they attempt to cross a bar, and to reschedule their trip offshore if conditions are unsafe.
  • Provision of 252 courtesy moorings and 101 emergency moorings.
  • More than 20,200 recreational (private) moorings and 6170 commercial mooring sites are administered by Transport for NSW.

Aquatic event management

  • On-water boating traffic management including the monitoring of exclusive use zones is carried out during major aquatic events.
  • Major events include the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, New Years Eve, and Australia Day celebrations as well as ski events such as the 'Southern 80' on the Murray River. These events are represented in more than 700 aquatic licences issues annually.
  • During the COVID-19 restrictions a number of major aquatic events were cancelled or downsized to help our customers stay COVID safe and reduce likelihood of spectators overcrowding areas and not meeting social distancing requirements.

Marine Rescue NSW

  • An annual grant is provided to support the operations of Marine Rescue NSW, the State's 3,000 member volunteer marine search and rescue service. In 2019 -2020, a $1.74 million grant was provided to Marine Rescue NSW.
  • An annual 'Marine Rescue contribution' is also collected as part of boat drivers licence and boat registration fees on behalf of Marine Rescue NSW. In 2019 -20, $6.9 million was collected and forwarded to the Ministry of Police and Emergency Services for this purpose.

Hydrographic survey and spatial information

  • Hydrographic surveys of coastal waterways are carried out periodically to identify hazards and inform the placement of navigation aids and support mapping.

Marine pollution preparedness and response

  • Preparing for and responding to the threat of oil and chemical spills in marine waters, north of Port Stephens and south of Gerroa (outside the areas Port Corporations are responsible for) is carried out by Transport for NSW as a 'combat agency' under marine pollution laws.
  • Fees collected from shipping, via the Port Corporations, pay the majority of costs incurred for maintaining the State's marine pollution response capability, under a 'potential polluter pays' However, each year boating incidents also result in a number of smaller marine pollution response activities, therefore the Waterways Fund supplements the funding provided by shipping.

Sydney Harbour Environmental Services

  • The Sydney Harbour Environmental Services Unit removes hazards to navigation, litter and waste from Sydney Harbour including the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers, and public beaches and foreshores to improve harbour safety and amenity.
  • In 2019-20, the Environmental Service Unit vessels removed around 2,763 cubic metres of waste from Sydney Harbour.

Reinvestment of savings

  • Waterways Fund 'savings' have been generated since 2011.
  • Cost savings are reinvested in priority boating infrastructure and frontline services to ensure boating safety is enhanced through safe waterway access, clean waters, and education and regulation activities.

Other Waterways Fund revenue and expenditure

  • Transport for NSW manages a 'maritime property' portfolio which includes the bed of Sydney Harbour, Botany Bay, Newcastle Harbour and Port Kembla and some adjacent land.
  • Revenue from the lease, rental and sale of maritime property assets is also paid into the Waterways Fund, and these funds support the delivery of related functions.