Following a state-wide blitz over the past weekend, one in ten boaters, kayakers and jet ski riders were found to be non-compliant with maritime safety regulations.
The top reason for NSW Maritime issuing a fine was for not wearing or carrying a lifejacket, followed by expired licences and registrations, NSW Maritime executive director, Mark Hutchings, said.
"Speeding was also an issue, particularly among Jet Ski riders," he said.
In total, NSW Maritime conducted 2080 safety checks, resulting in 88 penalty notices and 227 official cautions.
In the Illawarra, officers had a high visibility presence on a number of waterways, including Lake Illawarra.
Across the entire south region, NSW Maritime officers undertook 833 safety checks, issued 51 penalty notices and 113 official cautions.
With Australia Day a popular day for boaters and high numbers expected to converge on waterways in the Illawarra and across NSW, the operation conducted on the weekend aimed to remind the public of how to stay safe on the water.
"We want everyone heading out on the water this Australia Day to come home safely. Thirteen out of the 16 people who died last year weren't wearing a life jacket," said Mr Hutchings.
"Wearing a lifejacket while you're on the water is the best and simplest thing you can do to stay safe."
According to Deon Voyer, NSW Maritime Principal Manager South, the type of incidents that are increasingly common reinforce the need for safety devices, such as lifejackets.
"We're getting a lot of single vessel but multiple fatality incidents," he said.
As boating increases in popularity as a past-time, Voyer said that inexperienced skipper can become overwhelmed by the various requirements of the job. With incidents such as propeller strike a focus of concern for NSW Maritime, delegating responsibilities can keep a group safe.
"Particularly when you are towing, let's have a plan, 'You're responsible for the person in the water, you're responsible for seeing what's going on around me, and I'm driving the boat,'" Mr Voyer said.
"There's a lot going on with a boat."
The Illawarra Mercury newsroom is funded by our readers. You can subscribe to support our journalism here.
Sign up for breaking news emails below ...
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.