New Safety Regulations for Pleasure Craft

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailDermot Ahern TD, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, has signed into law new safety regulations aimed at Ireland’s growing marine leisure sector. The new regulations encompass all types of pleasure craft regardless of the means of propulsion. Existing requirements governing mechanically propelled pleasure craft introduced in 2001 have been incorporated into the new regulations. The new regulations, which are titled the “Merchant Shipping (Pleasure Craft) Lifejackets and Operation) Safety) Regulations 2004”, have immediate effect. For the first time ever, it is compulsory for all children up to the age of 16 years to wear a lifejacket while on board a pleasure craft. Minister Ahern said the new regulations took effect from Friday at the start of the June Bank Holiday – the weekend when many boating enthusiasts return to the water. The main provisions of the regulations are: • Lifejackets/personal floatation devices to be carried on every pleasure craft (other than personal watercraft) regardless of the size of the craft. • Everyone on board a pleasure craft of less than 7 metres (23 feet) in length must wear a lifejacket/personal floatation device. • Lifejackets/personal floatation devices must be worn by those up to the age of 16 years on all pleasure craft. • Lifejackets/personal floatation devices must be worn by persons being towed by a pleasure craft or on board a craft or on board a vessel or object being towed by a craft, • Every person on a personal watercraft (jet ski) or while being towed by a personal watercraft, must wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device. • Controls on the operation of pleasure craft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and control of consumption of alcohol or drugs, have been extended to all pleasure craft – they previously only applied to fast power craft and personal watercraft under the 2001 regulations. The regulations contain an exemption for rowers involved in “Olympic style rowing” in recognition of the international rules and conditions under which this sport is governed. The new regulations may be viewed at The Minister said he regarded the wearing of lifejackets by everybody on board small pleasure craft to be an essential element in staying safe on the water. He added “Addressing the unacceptable practice of individuals using such vessels without wearing a life jacket has been at the top of my safety agenda.” In relation to the enforcement of the new regulation, the Minister said the Coast Guard, Officers of the Maritime Safety Directorate and the Gardai will have a major role to play. The Minster has called on all organisations involved in water- based activities to promote the wearing of lifejackets in accordance with the new legislation. Parents too have a pivotal role to play in ensuring that children wear lifejackets at all times. The Coast Guard has produced a public awareness campaign for local radio focussing on the new requirements for lifejackets. The Minister said that the levels of compliance with the new legislation will be monitored closely. To assist in this process commencing this week, two Coast Guard vessels will be deployed at Howth and Crosshaven which are two major boating activity areas in the country. Other vessels will be deployed on a random basis around the coast-line during the coming months to promote safety awareness including the wearing of lifejackets. The Minister said he would like to stress, above all, the importance of the public taking personal responsibility for their own safety through wearing lifejackets and taking other sensible safety precautions when undertaking their water based leisure activities. The Minister advised the public to access the water safety website which gives important information on safety for various types of waterspouts.