Boaters are being urged to prioritise their own safety after a joint compliance operation over the New Year long weekend found that nearly one out of five vessels had occupants not wearing lifejackets.

Safe Transport Victoria compliance officers, as part of the joint operation led by Victoria Police, stopped 111 vessels (boats, kayaks and jet skis) at Lake Eppalock, Lake Nagambie and Pykes Creek reservoir – 21 vessels had occupants not wearing a lifejacket when required to.

Ten of the vessels stopped were being driven by an unlicenced person who did not hold a marine licence.

Wearing a lifejacket is essential for staying safe on any waterway as it gives you time to get back on board or raise the alarm. Nearly four out of five fatal boating incidents over the past five years involved the person not wearing a lifejacket.

Boaters on powerboats less than 4.8 metres long, jet skis, and unpowered vessels such as sailboats, canoes, kayaks and paddleboards are required to wear a lifejacket. It’s important to remember people being towed (such as water-skiers or inflatable tubers) are also required to wear a lifejacket at all times.

Safe Transport Victoria officers issued 42 individual infringements and issued 42 formal warnings for a range of maritime offences over the long weekend, including not wearing a lifejacket, not carrying required safety equipment, exceeding the 5 knot speed limit, and not possessing a marine licence.

For more information about lifejackets and when and where they are required, visit the Safe Transport Victoria website:

The New Year long weekend operation was a joint compliance operation by Victoria Police and Safe Transport Victoria.

Safe Transport Victoria compliance officers regularly patrol waterways across the state in partnership with Victoria Police, Parks Victoria, and waterway managers


Quotes attributable to Kate Maheras, Interim Director Maritime Safety, Safe Transport Victoria:

“Make wearing a lifejacket your New Year’s resolution. Wearing a lifejacket could help save your life if you fall into the water.”

“Safe Transport Victoria will be out on the water at waterways across Victoria to ensure vessel owners and boaters follow rules and behave safely.

“If you don’t follow the rules you risk being fined, and you put yourself and others at risk.”