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Published: 2008-12-19 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is clarifying that proposed new rules covering the wearing of lifejackets in vessels less than six metres do not make wearing them compulsory in all circumstances.

It is proposed that from 1 July next year all boat users in the Waikato region will have to wear lifejackets in vessels less than six metres.

But they will not have to if the boat skipper specifically determines it is not necessary.

This change is being proposed by Maritime New Zealand as a change to Part 91 of the Maritime Rules, with which EW’s bylaw must be consistent.

It would put more positive pressure on the wearing of flotation devices in small vessels.

Under the current navigation safety bylaw, it is only necessary to wear a lifejacket in situations of heightened risk, for example when crossing a bar or in adverse weather.

"EW’s proposed rules would cover from Huka Falls to Port Waikato, other lakes and waterways in the region, and around the Waikato coastline," said an EW navigation safety spokesperson David Pearks.

Boating on Lake Taupo comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of Internal Affairs.

A number of other changes to the bylaw have been proposed, many resulting from a series of public meetings. Feedback from the meetings has been incorporated into a draft bylaw, which will be available for public comment from 19 January to 27 February. Write to Shelley Monrad, Environment Waikato, PO Box 4010, Hamilton or email shelley.monrad@ew.govt.nz, if you have any queries regarding the bylaw or any proposed changes.

The other proposed changes to the current bylaw include:

  • a kayaking visibility guideline
  • naming of vessels
  • having an appropriate means of communication on board the craft
  • emergency contact details on smaller vessels.

Meanwhile, Mr Pearks said that under a long-standing Maritime New Zealand arrangement, rowers in affiliated rowing club events or training do not have to wear lifejackets providing a support boat carries enough lifejackets in case there is a mishap.