A collaboration by some of the most prominent boating safety authorities and organisations in the world aims to promote lifejacket wear and prevent death by drowning.
Representatives of national boating authorities and organisations from Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom today agreed on the International Lifejacket Wear Principles, following the Marine13 conference in Sydney. Although unable to attend the conference, the Boating Division of the US Coast Guard has also indicated its strong interest in the Principles.
Across these nations, the majority of all fatal boating accident victims drown and of these, around four out of five are reported as not wearing a lifejacket.
Founding signatories to the principles agree the single greatest challenge facing the recreational boating safety community today is increasing the lifejacket wear rate among the boating public.
The main aim of the principles is to promote lifejacket wear and to normalise it by encouraging boating media around the world to show people wearing lifejackets in small boats. The different jurisdictions, largely depending on marine conditions, define small boats variously as under 4.8m, under 16ft, under 6m or under 7m, and including tenders.
The draft principles were first discussed at the Canadian Safe Boating Council Symposium in 2012 and it was agreed that work would continue to finalise them at the Marine 13 conference in Sydney.
Endorsing the principles does not create any obligations but provides a powerful tool for future work and sets a benchmark for boating safety promotion around the world.
Launched in Sydney, the principles are hosted on a webpage to allow like-minded organisations to show their support, and to provide links to exemplary lifejacket wear initiatives.
All those involved in these foundation principles have a joint goal of achieving a higher level of collaboration and coordination between leading boating authorities and organisations around the world.
Signatories to the principles believe international unity of purpose and direction regarding the promotion of wearing lifejackets will help strengthen and clarify the importance of lifejackets across all jurisdictions. All agree to use the word “lifejacket” as a generic, non-ambiguous term covering all nationally approved personal lifesaving appliances/devices.