Boaties heading out onto the waters of Hawke's Bay over the summer are being reminded that wearing a lifejacket while under way is compulsory and fines will be dished out if people fail to get the "put it on" message.

As Hawke's Bay Regional Council harbourmaster captain Phil Norman made clear, the compulsory wearing of lifejackets was included in a set of new bylaws introduced last January, and covered all marine craft 6m or less in length and all craft propelled by oars.

That included waka, kayaks and canoes.

The "under way" bylaws state that jackets must be worn while the craft is being prepared to set out and while being propelled.


"If you are anchored for fishing you do not need to wear it, but the minute you up anchor to move off, the lifejacket must be worn."

Mr Norman said the council was one of a growing number that had introduced bylaws outside of Maritime Rule 91 which requires that there must be enough lifejackets on board for each passenger - but it does not demand they be worn while under way.

He said council compliance officers would be "strongly monitoring" waterborne activities throughout the summer and through to Queen's Birthday weekend.

"We want to spread the message and we will ultimately enforce it."

People found not wearing jackets while under way would be stopped and warned, and advised to get a copy of the bylaws and to read them.

They would have their details taken and they would be placed on a database.

"If they commit a repeat offence they will be issued with an infringement notice," Mr Norman said, adding the result of that could be a fine of up to $500.

Depending on the seriousness of the offence they could also end up facing a day in court.

"It is all about safety, and if we get to the end of the summer season and we haven't issued one notice then I will be very happy."

Mr Norman said clubs and marine groups were aware of the bylaws and ensured members complied.

"But it is getting through to people who do not belong to clubs - who may have just bought a boat or a kayak and intend taking it out."

He said part of the council's push had been to get the attention of youngsters.

"I was impressed with the kids' involvement in the 'Stop, drop and cover' campaign in September, and they took that message home with them."

The focus of getting the attention of youngsters saw the council, in conjunction with Firmans Marine in Napier, stage a water safety colouring competition which drew more than 50 entries and saw two happy youngsters, 7-year-old Tristan Smith from Wairoa and 11-year-old Zachary Burlace from Hastings, win a brand new lifejacket.