Our Position on Mandatory Wearing of Life Jackets on Boats

June 2017

Currently, the WA Department of Transport is conducting a review of recreational boating safety requirements and the public have been asked to put their views forward during the consultation period.

Safety equipment items under review include:

  • lifejackets;
  • distress signals – EPIRBs, PLBs and flares;
  • radios and distress signalling sheets;
  • compasses and GPSs;
  • fire extinguishers; and,
  • miscellaneous equipment (first aid, lighting, paddles, bilge pumps, anchors).

Recfishwest is a key stakeholder and is represented on the Department of Transport’s External Reference Group which provides input from all the relevant water using sectors, including recreational fishing.

One topic that is being widely discussed is the consideration for the mandatory wearing of life jackets on recreational vessels.

 Please see below our position on the issue of the mandatory wearing of life jackets on recreational vessels:

  • We encourage and promote safe fishing experiences for all and equip fishers with the knowledge so they can make their own decision to fish or not to fish (as we do for rock fishing), and we believe this needs to be applied to vessel safety
  • We support increased education campaigns towards vessel owners, of the risks associated with their safety, it’s important that people have good knowledge to make their own informed decisions in specific situations
  • We do not support a blanket approach to make the wearing of life jackets on a boat mandatory

– Fishing in WA offers a large variety of boat and kayak fishing opportunities and simply having one strict rule covering all those situations is not something we support

– Where there’s evidence and statistics to support the wearing of life jackets in high-risk situations such as boat fishing at night or by yourself, like some other states, we would consider this approach instead

– We believe safety comes down to the individual and personal responsibility is the key factor

  • We believe educating boat fishers on the advancement of life jacket technology is important. There are some great slim fitting, compact life jackets that are designed to be worn on the market now, and for a really reasonable price.  Educating the boating public and empowering them to make their own choices is a better approach than making it compulsory

Recfishwest works hard to promote safety and we want to see all fishers return home safe at the end of a day’s fishing.

If you’d like to have your say, please visit the Department of Transport’s survey here.