Make Wearing of Life Jackets Compulsory

Media Release 22 May 2012
Family First NZ is calling for the law to be changed to make the wearing – not just the carrying – of lifejackets compulsory on non-commercial smaller pleasure boats, canoes and dinghies. 

“Currently the law only requires the carrying of lifejackets and the wearing of them in situations of ‘heightened risk’. By making them compulsory to wear at all times, coastguard authorities, police and members of the public will be able to be ensure that families are not put at risk by venturing on to the water without this requirement,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. 

“We have seen far too many tragedies of families in boats and even people fishing on dangerous coastline areas such as rocks and the Manukau Harbour.” 

“We need to be proactive on this issue rather than shake our heads in despair at yet another tragedy on our waters which could have possibly been prevented by the simple wearing of lifejackets,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

“We’ve attempted to get the message through on seatbelts, bike helmets, and child safety carseats. It’s time to also focus that message on lifejackets. The water is too unforgiving not to make this message a priority.” 

Family First is asking for the law and fines to be strengthened, and for greater awareness campaigns around popular boating areas.

From Maritime NZ website

Lifejackets – a legal requirement

You must carry a correctly sized, serviceable lifejacket (also known as a personal flotation device or PFD) for each person on board a pleasure boat in New Zealand. This is a legal requirement, and this rule applies to all boats, including tenders and larger craft.

Skipper responsibility

It is the skipper’s legal responsibility to ensure that lifejackets are worn in situations of heightened risk, such as when crossing a bar, in rough water, during an emergency, and by non-swimmers.

Why wear a lifejacket?

Most drownings in boating accidents involve craft under 6m. All on board boats under 6m should wear a lifejacket, unless the skipper has assessed this is not necessary, due to the low risk at the time.