Crime wave on seas sparks warning on water safety
The Marine Police are urging water-sports fans and fishermen to be more aware of safety and security at sea as summer approaches.
Serious accidents and thefts were common at sea, said Joseph Li, chief inspector of police with the Marine East Division.
'We do not see any particular increases in crime rates during summer and the fishing moratorium [in June and July], but with more people playing water sports in the hot season, there's a greater chance of accidents at sea,' Mr Li said.
Crime rates at sea generally have been on the rise. Vessel thefts were up from 37 in 2002 to 85 in 2003, while thefts on board increased from 56 in 2002 to 99 in 2003.
Marine police are asking fishermen to monitor their vessels and rafts during the two-month fishing moratorium in the South China Sea. It also warned them not to leave valuables and expensive equipment on board, or to lock them up carefully.
Marine officer Michael Chau Chun-ming warned people who do water sports to ensure the vessels they rented had licences.
'We have to ensure there are people on board that have the necessary safety knowledge. Not only do users have to be aware of sea safety, the vessel owners also have the responsibility to remind people on board to be careful,' said Mr Chau.
Paul Cheung Po-cheong, chairman of Hong Kong Jet Sports Boating Association, said he saw a slight increase in the number of people taking to the water every summer as jet skiing and wake boarding grew more popular.
'Most people pursuing leisure activities in Hong Kong [waters] ignore safety requirements when jet boating,' he said. 'A pleasure vessel operator at grade 2 level, and the vessel owner, have to be on board when people are jet boating.'
The regulation was meant to protect people in case of accidents.