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Boat accident a life jacket lesson: PM

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/11/2016

While mourning the deaths of seven fishermen in a boating accident on Kaipara Harbour on Saturday, boaties should also learn a lesson about wearing life jackets, the Prime Minister says.

The bodies of seven men have been recovered while an eighth man remains missing, presumed dead, after their boat Francie capsized in treacherous conditions.

It's believed none of the 11 men on board the 12-metre steel launch were wearing life jackets at the time, prompting questions about whether their use should be mandatory.

But while issuing a warning about safety, John Key has rejected the idea, citing complex technical issues, and saying it's as much about culture as the law.

Previous discussions around mandatory life jackets have run into problems about whether passengers would be required to wear life jackets when the boat is moored just metres off shore, versus when the boat is travelling at speed or on the open ocean.

Mr Key said it was unclear whether a lack of life jackets was the sole factor at play, but said wearing a jacket increased chances of survival and likened them to seatbelts in cars.

"You do it because you know in your heart and in your head that it'll save your life if there's an accident. And I think that's true on a boat," he said.

"So personally I think every boatie should, while taking a moment to mourn the loss on the weekend, learn a lesson going forward that they've got to wear a life jacket."

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