NJ Mandates Winter PFD Use On All Boats Under 26 Feet - The Fisherman

NJ Mandates Winter PFD Use On All Boats Under 26 Feet

Starting November 1, no owner or operator of a recreational vessel less than 26 feet, including rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards, shall permit its operation between November 1 and May 1, unless each person on board such vessel is wearing a securely fastened United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved wearable personal flotation device of an appropriate size while such vessel is underway. A person inside the cabin of a cabin vessel shall be exempt from this requirement.

In short, a USCG approved life jacket is required to be worn at all times, outside of a cabin on a boat under 26 feet during the winter months, even aboard for-hire vessels.  According to the USCG, “underway” is defined as the state when “A vessel not at anchor, aground or made fast to the shore,” which therefore means PFDs are required on the drift.

Expect a retail run on “fishing friendly” inflatable PFD vests in New Jersey this months as new “BRC” regulations go into effect through May 1 for passengers on boats under 26 feet in length.

According to the New Jersey State Police, the new regulation (13:82-1.4(f)) was enacted to prevent hypothermia deaths, and to decrease the risks placed upon first responders during winter search and rescue operations on the waters of New Jersey. “This new regulation is in the best interest of the safety of operators and passengers on New Jersey’s waterways,” the New Jersey State Police said.

The regulatory decision to implement the new PFD requirement in state waters was made by the New Jersey Boat Regulation Commission (BRC).  Learn more at www.nj.gov/njsp/marine-services.