With temperatures rising and a recent rush of applications for boat licences, NSW water police are warning they will crack down on anyone flouting safety rules.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said there had been an unacceptable number of boating fatalities on NSW waterways during winter.
"Five people have sadly lost their lives on NSW waters since the start of July. None of them were wearing a lifejacket, but all of them left behind grieving families," he said on Thursday.
"The peak boating season doesn't begin until the October long weekend but already we are seeing too many people flouting boating safety rules, or unaware of them."
Centre for Maritime Safety executive director Bernard Carlon says COVID-19 restrictions on other recreational activities appears to be leading to more people heading out on the water.
"There has been a noticeable increase in the number of people applying for a boat licence in the middle of winter, with July up 50 per cent to 1470 applications on the same time last year," he said.
NSW Police Marine Area Command Commander Acting Superintendent Joe McNulty said fines would be handed out to anyone not wearing or carry lifejackets, speeding, unsafe towing activities and personal watercraft infringements.
"Repeated warnings have been falling on deaf ears and, quite frankly, too many people are coming to grief on our waterways," Supt McNulty said.
Thirty-five per cent of the 2247 fines issued in 2019/20 were for not wearing a lifejacket when alone or with children under 12, he said.
Australian Associated Press