New Zealand Safer Boating Forum

The New Zealand Safer Boating Forum (formerly the National Pleasure Boat Safety Forum) is a formal network representing a cross-section of national and regional government agencies, local body groups, organisations and the marine industry, involved in promoting recreational boating safety in New Zealand.

The purpose of the Forum is to work together to develop and implement a common safety recreational boating strategy for New Zealand and to support agreed boating safety policy, communications, education, compliance and regulation. Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) leads the Forum and works with Forum members to coordinate safe boating activities.


About the forum

The Forum was set up in 2000 to coordinate and implement the recommendations of the Pleasure Boat Safety Advisory Group final report released in 1999.

The report’s recommendations provided the framework to build an integrated New Zealand Pleasure Boat Safety Strategy. The strategy uses a combination of education and targeted legislation to address the key risk factors in recreational boating fatalities.

The four key risk factors identified and targeted by the Forum are:

  • failure to wear lifejackets in small craft that are statistically over represented in fatalities (those less than 6 metres in length)
  • inability to communicate distress following an immersion-type accident
  • bad weather and sea conditions
  • alcohol (a significant cause of accidents and fatalities but underreported as a causal factor)


Recreational Craft Strategy 2023-2025

The Recreational Craft Strategy has a vision to enable people on recreational craft to connect to and enjoy water safely. Designed in partnership with Safer Boating Forum (SBF) members and the SBF’s Leadership Group, the strategy seeks to increase the ability of the sector and the communities affected by harm to be part of the solution.

Read about the Forum’s strategic goals for recreational craft safety and how it’s working to achieve them.

Recreational Craft Strategy 2023-2025 [PDF: 1216kB, 1 page]


Safer when sober

The New Zealand Safer Boating Forum’s position on the use of alcohol and drugs on recreational boats and watercraft.

Our position

“Never drive or paddle a recreational boat or watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

Our position is based on what we have learned - from evidence, research and fatality statistics - about the safety risks of being impaired from alcohol and drugs while on the water.

NZSBF Drugs and Alcohol Position Statement [PDF: 656kB, 2 pages]


Communication equipment on recreational vessels

Read about the Forum’s position on the need for at least two forms of waterproof communication equipment when you are out on the water.

NZSBF Communications Position Statement [PDF: 184kB, 7 pages]


See our safety campaigns


The Forum members are:


International alignment

In October 2013, the Forum joined national boating authorities from Australia, Canada, France and the United Kingdom as a safety partner to the International Lifejacket Wear Principles. MNZ was a founding signatory to the Principles.

The Principles are aimed at promoting personal responsibility through wearing lifejackets in small vessels and making lifejackets a normal part of any media, publicity or advertising involving small boats. They were agreed in May 2013, following initial development work at the Canadian Safe Boating Council Symposium in 2012. Signatories to the International Lifejacket Wear Principles agree to:

  • recognise the fundamental role that wearing a lifejacket plays in protecting people on the water
  • recognise the importance of promoting the use of lifejackets when boating
  • endeavour to ensure that any publication including brochures, DVD, video and websites will feature all people wearing contemporary lifejackets when in an outside area of a small craft that is underway
  • recommend to the recreational boating industry that its publications similarly feature all people wearing lifejackets when in an outside area of a small craft that is underway
  • require on-water education and compliance staff to wear lifejackets whenever they are on the water
  • use the term “lifejacket” in public information and education
  • encourage boating safety networks to become “safety partners” by supporting the above principles.

Related information:

Lifejacket usage

Read about the Forum's position on the use of lifejackets for recreational activities on the water.

Read more