Fishing Report - Issue 967

14 Sep 2021

Well, since the recent Alert Level 3 and 4 lockdowns, there hasn’t been much fishing going on.

Now that we are in Level 2, I thought I’d take this opportunity to discuss a few rules/regulations and common sense around boating before we get into the swing of spring and summer fishing.

Let’s start with lifejackets also known as PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices)

Did you know that any person in charge of a recreational vessel must ensure that the vessel has on board at the time of use, and in a readily available location, a PFD of the appropriate size for every person on board? This doesn’t apply to any surfboard or similar powered craft, any sailboarder or windsurfer provided a wetsuit is worn at all times, or by a diver on a boat under 6m in length that is used solely for diving within five miles offshore and is wearing a full body wetsuit at all times.

There are exceptions for sporting events and sports training and cultural events via approval from the Maritime Director or regional council providing alternate safety requirements are met. 

The PFD or lifejacket must be an approved buoyancy aid to the New Zealand Standards (or equivalent). Most lifejackets will have the approval on the manufacturer’s tags.

Be aware that some older jackets no longer meet the requirements (Kapox jackets for instance are no longer legal). Self-inflating jackets and PFD’s should be tested annually without fail.

Lifejackets should be referred to as the equivalent of seatbelts in a car. Make sure they are in good condition, a good fit and readily accessible. Everyone on recreational boats under 6m in length are required to wear lifejackets when leaving and entering ports and boat ramps (including beaches used for access). Lifejackets must also be worn in extreme tidal zones, river flows, adverse weather, poor visibility and during emergencies. 

When towing persons on sea biscuits, water skiers or anything else over 5kt (including other boats), lifejackets must be worn.

It all comes down to common sense.

Minimum age for operating a powerboat

It’s 15 years old unless the person operating the boat is under direct supervision of a person over 15 years of age who can take immediate control of the vessel if required.

Not only is the skipper of the vessel responsible for compliance with this rule, so is the actual owner of the vessel. So, bear this in mind when allowing the kids to use the bach and boat for a weekend away with mates. Trust me - it happens. I have attended Coastguard call-outs more than once where kids have used dad’s boat without him knowing and got themselves into strife (in more ways than one - especially when mum and dad find out).  


The rules are easy, which is why it surprises me how many still do not know the rules or unfortunately simply don’t care.

Vessels should not exceed 5 knots:

  • Within 50m of another vessel, raft or person in the water.
  • Within 200m of the shore or any structure (remember this the next time you blast past Mussel Rock or Wilmore’s Pass in Hahei - these are both structures).
  • Within 200m of another vessel displaying the Alpha (divers) flag (and come-on divers, display your flags for everyone’s safety). Divers can end up several hundreds of meters away from their support boats due to strong underwater currents, so be extra careful.

Port and starboard - left and right

It would be far easier if we just had left and right of course, but we don’t. A good way to remember Port is “there is no port left in the bottle” or “we have just left port”.

Boats coming toward each other should pass port to port which, of course, is left side to left side (where possible). For example, if you are in Tauranga and have a container ship coming in and have to go starboard to starboard because they are moving into the dock on their portside, it’s best to give way to them. Chances are they can’t even see you and you wouldn’t want to get stuck between them and the wharf.

Boats using channels in New Zealand should have the red channel markers on their starboard (right hand) side when heading out to sea and green channel markers on their starboard side when coming back in. Basically on the wrong side of the road if we were in a vehicle (a bit like driving in America). 


You are not allowed to cause unnecessary wake that can put other vessels into danger or damage them.

Towing sea biscuits and water skiers.

You must have a person over 10 years or age as a spotter that can immediately notify the person in charge of every “mishap” of the person/s being towed. You cannot tow people in the hours of darkness. There are ski lanes and access lanes on most beaches in our area. There are rules regarding using these lanes, but essentially it comes down to common sense.

Marker buoys, channel markers and navigation floats.

You are not allowed to tie up to any of these, unless it’s an emergency.

River recommendations 

If you are going upstream or against the tide, give way to vessels coming downstream or with the tide. It’s easier and safer for you to steer/navigate than the vessel coming the other way if you are going against the current. 

Safe fishing to all and if in doubt, don’t go out.

Tony Marsters

Warfish Charters

Phone (021) 298 5750


The Informer Fishing Report proudly sponsored by Mercury Bay Marine.