New boating rules come into effect

Bay of Plenty boaties are being reminded to check out the changes to the region’s Navigation Safety Bylaw before they next head out on the water.


The 2017 Navigation Safety Bylaw came into effect over the weekend after it was adopted in February following a lengthy review.  The amended rules came into effect on July 1, to give boaties time to adjust before the busy summer season.

Bay of Plenty Harbourmaster Peter Buell says although the changes are not major it’s still important people are up to date with them.

“This bylaw is all about balancing safety with the needs of different users of our waterways. These users can really vary; from recreational fishers to water sports enthusiasts to commercial boats navigating a shipping channel.  The changes to the bylaw reflect the huge increase of recreational boats on the water, especially personal water craft – commonly known as jet skis - and their sometimes competing needs,” he says.

Lifejackets were heavily debated throughout the review of this bylaw, with people mostly on the fence about whether it should be compulsory to wear them while on the water. 

“In the end, the independent commissioners have opted for the Auckland rule that says they must be worn on vessels 6m or less unless the skipper has assessed the risk and advised it’s safe to remove them. This means the onus is on the skipper,” Peter says.  

“Another key change is around the registration of jetski and other personal water craft. Owners will now need to register these vessels online through Auckland Council. Although there will an initial grace period we expect them all to be registered by summer,” he says.

“Other changes boaties will need to get up to speed with are around the compulsory naming of vessels, and in Tauranga Harbour the reduced ski period for Hunters Creek and the newly created moving prohibited zone in the shipping channel,” Peter says.

Over the next few months the regional council will upgrade its signs to reflect the changes to the bylaw. In  the meantime people can check out a summary of the changes, the full 2017 Navigation Safety Bylaw and how to register a personal water craft at www.boprc.govt.nz/safeboating or can collect a copy from their nearest regional council office.