PaddleNSW Advocacy

PNSW advocacy…another reason to be a member.


As an avenue for advocacy on behalf of NSW paddlers, PaddleNSW is  a member of the NSW Maritime RVAG (Recreational Vessels Advisory Group) and the RSC (Rowing Steering Committee).

The RVAG gives us the opportunity to raise issues of concern, lobby for change and keep abreast of the latest developments from Maritime and other marine authorities, and changes to and the drafting of new legislation.

On a more local level, PaddleNSW is also a member of the RSC (Rowing Steering Committee), another maritime committee constituted to work through issues relating to competitive rowing and training on NSW waterways, and is of even more relevance to NSW paddlers. We can lobby for change directly and face-to-face with Maritime.


Recently, PaddleNSW on behalf of several PNSW clubs, lobbied for the introduction of training zones for their paddlers who are training for and competing in sprint and marathon. Some might remember the issue was raised with clubs last year, and unfortunately we received only a couple of responses.

We nominated 5x sample training zones however Maritime has not accepted this proposal, which included the relaxation of lifejacket requirements for paddlers training within these zones. Their comment was that the proposal was not supported by enough clubs to warrant any further debate on the subject.

This is very disappointing for the clubs that supported the request, and for the volunteers (and there were several) who spent a great deal of time formulating the proposal.

Now, each individual club will have to apply for a lifejacket exemption based on its own documented risk assessment and safety protocol. It will also require clubs that have operated without aquatic licences in the past, to now apply for one if they wish to seek a lifejacket exemption.

While many clubs will have no interest in seeking exemptions, those sprint and marathon competition-based clubs will be faced with an onerous task, made even more pressing when the full heat of summer descends upon us.


Which brings me back to the RSC. This committee was formed around 10 years ago when lifejacket legislation was to be tightened, and where there was considerable discontent between the Rowing fraternity and other waterways users, in particular Sydney Harbour Ferries.

You will notice that NSW competition rowers don’t wear lifejackets. RowingNSW had an issue on their hands where lifejackets were to be introduced, and their rowing training severely limited on Sydney waterways. Their comment …. ‘lifejackets would have killed our sport’.

Their State competition body, Rowing NSW,  formulated a code of conduct that stipulated that their rowers were accompanied by coaches in runabouts or tenders, that they had lighting front and back in darkness, that they adhered to certain training paths, and had negotiated shared access to busy waterways at certain times of the day.

Within 5 years, an amicable resolution of issues was reached and now the RSC is very much a platform for positive communication between non-powered waterways users and Maritime. Hence the invitation for PaddleNSW to join the committee.


It was along these lines that PaddleNSW also proposed special conditions for competition flatwater paddlers. PaddleNSW argued that their competition paddlers would be within a delineated zone, all can swim, they are generally paddling in a group, they are in skinny racing boats, and have number boards fitted. They are quite obviously training for competition.


The difficulty for Maritime regulation lies in our diversity. We paddle everything, from sit-on-tops adorned with fishing rods, to Ocean Racing skis, to competition K1’s. There is no clear delineation between craft, paddler ability etc that  Maritime can effectively police. We have lost the impetus for enacting change due to our diversity, differing local conditions and club cultures, and so we are faced with acting alone as clubs, and applying for exemptions in isolation.


We recently had major input into the proposed redevelopment of the old Halvorsen site in Putney. Developers propose replacing the existing swing moorings with a 60-berth marina, which will have an inbuilt wave barrier adjacent and parallel to the current rowing course and ferry path.

The issue was raised about egress from the water for any persons following capsize in the vicinity of the jetty, and PaddleNSW lobbied for a redesign of the marina to include ladders or steps for this purpose.


Tunks Park, a popular starting point for paddle journeys in middle harbour, is currently in the consultation phase for redevelopment due to the number of conflicting interest groups vying for amenities in  this prime harbour location. The proposal is to reduce the boat-trailer parking by half, with more emphasis on park rather than boat ramp users. Little has been mentioned about paddlecraft facilities, but here is your chance. If you have any ideas on how to improve access for paddlecraft in this area, don’t delay….write today!


The Hawkesbury River is a prime paddling location and often paddlers are taken for granted, if not even harassed, while they pursue their low-impact recreational activities. We now have a voice directly to Maritime, as a new consultative committee is formed, called the RBAG, (regional boating advisory group), where paddlers have the chance to meet face to face with other user groups and work on co-operative outcomes for river use. PaddleNSW will nominate a representative for the Upper Hawkesbury committee, being the river upstream of the Brooklyn Bridge. PaddleNSW requests nominations for our seat on this committee, to be sent to our office. Preference will be given to those who actively paddle on this waterway, either for recreational or training purposes, and who can lobby in the best interests of all paddler groups.


If you have a pet waterways access project, but a reluctant council, why not get in their ear about the ‘Boating Now’ grant opportunity to improve amenities in your area. There’s no harm in trying, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.


PaddleNSW raised the issue of abandoned and poorly maintained oyster leases as hazard not only to paddlecraft, but to boating in general. Suddenly the discussion heated up, and both fisheries (represented at RVAG) and Maritime agreed that this issue was a ‘sleeper’, one that had fallen under the radar, but needed action. We were asked to identify the most troublesome unused oyster leases where action could be taken. We have to identify these leases and rate them in terms of danger/inconvenience;  I can think of several in Mooney Moonee creek, others near Toukley, and still more on the south coast. You can too!

Please assist by rating your most troublesome leases, location, particular hazards etc, as we’ll get the ball rolling. Send to me via the office


I have also requested that the two dolphins in the Myall estuary be relocated as they are a distraction to paddlers doing the Myall Classic. This has been also noted by Maritime.


Tony Hystek

PNSW RVAG/RSC delegate



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