NEWS
05/16/2016 15:35 EDT | Updated 05/17/2017 01:12 EDT

'Drinking and boating don't mix' new campaign urges

New signs will be coming to B.C. marinas encouraging people to reconsider having a beer on a boat.

The B.C. government says there are about 50 boating deaths each year in the province.

Officials say many of those incidents are alcohol-related, so police are teaming up with BC Liquor Stores and the Community Against Preventable Injuries to launch a new campaign aimed at stopping drinking and boating.

"We see these types of tragedies involving alcohol and boating on a regular basis," said Sgt. Jason High of the Vancouver Police Marine Unit. "If we can prevent a tragedy by messaging people before they get out there we've done our job."

Boat operators become impaired twice as fast as someone on land because of increased stress factors such as motion, sun, wind, temperature and glare.

The Community Against Preventable Injuries says men aged 15 to 34 are particularly at risk.

Passengers also discouraged from drinking

The campaign — which kicks off this May long weekend — is not only aimed at boat operators.

Passengers are also being discouraged from drinking on board, as they are at a higher risk of drowning because alcohol reduces coordination and balance.

Drinking and boating is illegal and operators with more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood could face the following consequences:

- 1st offence: at least $1,000 fine

- 2nd offence: at least 30 days of imprisonment

- 3rd offence: at least 120 days of imprisonment

The campaign will run until the September long weekend.

With files from Megan Batchelor.