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Lifejackets For All Recreational Craft

Lifejackets are likely to be required to be carried on all recreational craft from mid next year, Transport Minister Mark Gosche said today.

The compulsory carriage of lifejackets is the subject of a maritime rule that goes out for consultation tomorrow

"Seventy five percent of all those who drown while boating could have avoided death by wearing a lifejacket. This rule proposes that every skipper will be responsible for providing a lifejacket of the appropriate size for every person on board," said Mr Gosche.

"In conditions where safety is likely to be comprised, such as in bad weather, rough seas or poor visibility, the rule makes it compulsory for lifejackets to be worn by all on board."

While this is required by existing bylaws in some regions, there is no national requirement.

"With various regional councils introducing bylaws covering recreational activities on the water, there is a need for national legislation to ensure consistency around the country," says Mr Gosche.

"Together with the Maritime Safety Authority's ongoing education programmes, this rule is expected to provide a significant improvement to the levels of safety on recreational craft."

The draft rule does not apply to people on surfboards or boogie boards. Sailboarders or windsurfers do not need to carry a life jacket if they are wearing a wet suit. Sporting events such as dragon boating or a ceremonial event are also exempted under the rule, provided there is a suitably equipped support vessel ready to assist in an emergency.

Infringements are likely to result in $100-$200 fines.

The rule will replace the Water Recreation Regulations 1974 and continues the basic navigation safety rules previously contained in these regulations. Some sections have been updated to meet current boating conditions and safety expectations.

Other maritime rules currently available for comment cover proposed qualifications and training requirements for maritime pilots, amendments to safe ship management systems and other minor technical amendments to a number of rules.

For copies of the draft rules and to make a submission, contact the Maritime Safety Authority or visit www.msa.govt.nz.

Ends


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