Partner Profile: Marine Sports Foundation

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This blog post is part of a series celebrating the great work of our Safe Boating Campaign partners around the world! We interviewed Tsubasa Shimamoto with the Marine Sports Foundation (Maris) to learn about their boating and life jacket safety efforts in Japan. Thank you to Marine Sports Foundation for all that you do! Learn more about the Marine Sports Foundation.

Q: How did Japan become involved with the Safe Boating Campaign?

A: Japan became involved in the Safe Boating Campaign (SBC) through a partnership with the Marine Sports Foundation (Maris) and the National Safe Boating Council. Maris has been a partner of the Safe Boating Campaign for over a decade through a variety of initiatives, including a robust social media and marketing program sharing photos and posters to encourage boaters to wear life jackets and participation in Ready, Set, Wear It Life Jacket Days.

Follow Marine Sports Foundation and the Wear It Project on Facebook.

We’ve had a lot of success with our campaign #heroswearlifejackets where we encouraged local heroes (fire fighters, police officers, coast guards, truck drivers, educators, etc.) to share photos of themselves wearing life jackets using the hashtag among other initiatives at marinas and parks.

We also translate and share videos created by water safety organizations such as the National Safe Boating Council and the American Canoe Association to share about important boating safety behaviors. We also support the National Safe Boating Council’s International Boating and Water Safety Summit, and were honored to have a delegation from the U.S. attend the Japan Boating and Water Safety Summit this past June. These are important opportunities to share ideas and best practices with each other to advance recreational boating safety around the world and save lives.

Q: How many boaters do you reach each year?

A: Each year, over 3,000 Japanese residents participate in Maris’ localized efforts for the Safe Boating Campaign, where we implement a number of initiatives that remind boaters of the importance of boating safely, including consistent life jacket wear, boating sober, knowing navigational rules and having a proper lookout.

Q: What types of events do you hold throughout the year to promote safe boating and life jacket safety in Japan?

A: Maris hosts local events, teaches classes, offers on-water training, and performs free vessel safety checks throughout the year. We also host boating events, such as Ready, Set, Wear It, to encourage more people to safely enjoy marine sports and activities by wearing a life jacket and boating responsibly. We also randomly give away life jackets to event participants while we patrol the waterways.

This year we set up life jacket rental stations at local beaches where children and adults could rent life jackets for free and learn about life jacket safety. We conducted a #heroswearlifejackets campaign on social media, where local heroes (i.e., fire fighters, police officers, coast guards, truck drivers, educators) shared photos of themselves wearing life jackets using the hashtag among other initiatives at marinas and parks. There were also numerous Ready, Set, Wear It events hosted across Japan during the summer, and we were proud to support Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day on May 17.

Q: Do you have any real-life stories of people in Japan that have who have benefited from these programs?

A: We have many stories of Japanese residents whose lives have been saved by wearing a life jacket. One example is the story featured on our website, about a man who went fishing alone. After arriving at his destination, he threw the anchor and fell into the water due to some windy conditions. He drifted from his boat, but thankfully he was wearing a life jacket and was able to re-board within fifteen minutes. Reflecting on the incident, the man reminds boaters to also have a whistle on their life jacket and a communication device that works when wet, as he did not have either and was unable to call for help. If not for his life jacket, he may not have been able to get back safely to his boat.

Q: What are your top 2-3 safety tips for people who are looking to enjoy time on the water?

A: For people who are looking to enjoy time on the water, Maris believes everyone should wear a life jacket at all times as well as follow the rules set forth by their country, state, county and city. We also encourage people to enroll in a boating safety course, avoid alcohol, be weather-wise, and get their vessel checked annually.

Q: What types of on-water and classroom training do you offer boaters in Japan?

A: As part of its education mission, Maris regularly gives community lectures about water safety and life jacket wear to children. We also provide seminars on boating safety to personal watercraft users. Maris partners with K38 Japan, the local chapter of K38 Rescue Water Craft, to train water safety representatives to rescue boaters and swimmers from rough conditions. Much like K38, Maris values and invests in solutions that save lives and protect reputations.