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Recreational Vessel Safety Review in WA

4 Min Read

Spending your summer days out on the river or open ocean is a wonderful family friendly activity and an all round top day out. But the one thing every new and experienced skipper should be focussed on is the safety of those on board. 

At Gregsons, we’ve got lots of Perth boat auctions taking place each year, with many boats purchased by new skippers and their families looking to enjoy a new hobby as part of their weekend activities. We’re all for getting out on the water in WA, so it’s important to stay updated on the latest safety regulations for recreational vessels that have been proposed.


Boating Standards Review

In March 2017, the WA Government began the process to give boating enthusiasts across the state the chance to share their opinions in regards to the safety requirements of recreational vessels – which was the first time a review of the standards had been conducted since 1992. 

The government proposed a number of changes to the existing regulations and asked the public for their input on each. The initial survey results suggested key considerations for the new regulations to be released in the future. Below is a summary of the key changes you need to be aware of before heading to your next perth boat auction and launching into your summer of boating adventures! 


Introduction of Principles: 

The introduction of guiding principles to the safety regulations of recreational vessels focus on easy adaptation, self-regulation and of course safety. These are as stated in the review Position Paper released in October 2019: 

  •  Responsibility: The onus of responsibility for safety equipment will be predominantly on the skipper, mandating only where necessary.
  • Practicality: Safety equipment requirements should be practical, effective and enable operators to comply at reasonable cost. 
  •  Simplicity: The safety equipment that is required should be simple to use, easy to comply with, readily obtainable and easy to maintain.
  • Standardised: The safety equipment that is required should be as uniform as possible across all vessel types. 
  • Emergency and Survival: Only safety equipment which directly promotes survival or rescue people will be mandatory.” 

The introduction of these principles will allow for skippers to specify the safety equipment on-board their vessels to their individual needs, rather than the one-size fits all model that is currently in place.


Current requirements state that any vessel less than 3.75 metres in length cannot be navigated further than 5 nautical miles from the nearest shoreline, but allows paddle crafts do not adhere to these same restrictions. 

The proposed changes would mean that length would not be the determining factor of the capabilities of the craft or vessel but rather this would be the responsibility of the skipper to be determined. The positive to this potential change for locals interested in venturing into recreational boating is that smaller boats may be allowed to travel further – so you could purchase a smaller boat from Gregsons boat auctions in Perth and still travel to Rottnest for the weekend!


Protected Waters or Within 400 Metres from Shore 

The key change to current regulations here, is that currently there is a wide variety of regulations dependant on vessel type. However, the proposed changes will standardise the use of safety equipment in these low risk areas to “not mandatory” – but instead on the assessment of the skipper of potential dangers or conditions.


Lifejacket Carriage and Wearing
The current safety requirements of lifejacket carriage is dependant on vessel and craft as well as distance from shore or protected and unprotected waters – the level of life jacket required also varies depending on these elements. The proposed changes would simplify the carriage and wearing requirements, to all vessels venturing further than 400 metres from shore required to carry level 100 or higher lifejackets on board. Whilst the requirements for wearing these jackets would be that on vessels less than 4.8m in length venturing further that 400m from shore – all on board must wear lifejackets, but all vessels with children aged older than 1 and less than 12 must wear jackets venturing the same distance.


In Summary
The proposed changes to the current safety requirements were not overly welcomed with the initial public survey, with each area receiving less than 30% for required change. However, with the upcoming survey on the proposed specific changes, you can have your say and take part in a big change to the recreational boating community!

Keen to join this community? Sign up to our newsletter to stay updated with upcoming boat auctions based in Perth and lots more! 

Further reading: Australia’s Best Boating Forums & Communities

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