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Description: Department of Transport - An Roinn IompairNew Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft

As we approach the recreational craft season, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport wishes to draw attention to the availability of the new and revised Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft, which was published in November 2017.

The Code of Practice is a valuable source of information, advice and best practice operational guidance for owners, masters, operators and users of a range of pleasure and recreational craft operating in Irish coastal and inland waters.


The Code of Practice highlights the importance of personal responsibility for all those who take to the water.  Each person must take maritime safety seriously, prepare and plan for a safe trip, behave responsibly on the water and be properly equipped so as to be able to respond to any incidents that may arise. The Code of Practice aims to assist with this responsibility.


The recently published 2016 Annual Report of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has highlighted an increase in fatalities and injuries, including in incidents involving recreational craft. The MCIB has reminded all vessel operators of the need to take personal responsibility, highlighting the dangers of operating a vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the importance of voyage planning and the need to comply with the appropriate regulatory or advisory regime, including the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft.


Who is the Code of Practice for and what’s new?

The Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft is intended for use by owners, operators and users of all pleasure and recreational craft operating in Irish coastal and inland waters, including:


·         Sail and Motor Boats

·         Sailing Dinghies

·         Personal watercraft (e.g. jet skis)

·         Power boats

·         Canoes, Kayaks

·         Rowing Boats

·         Charter Boats

·         Ski boats and dive boats

·         Windsurfers, Stand-Up Paddle Board users and other non-powered craft.


As well as providing updated information on the legislative requirements that apply to recreational craft, the Code of Practice also contains new content on such issues as non-commercial pot fishing, the safe use of slipways, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Installations, passage planning and craft such as Stand-Up Paddle Boards.


A useful Checklist of Basic Requirements and Advice can be found on page 5 of the Code and is also attached as an Annex to this Marine Notice.   


How to Use the Code?

The Code of Practice is in two Parts followed by a series of Appendices.


Part A (Chapter 1) outlines the legislative requirements that apply to all recreational craft or specific types or size of craft. Owners and operators must comply with the requirements appropriate to their craft. 


Part B (Chapters 2 to 11) contains recommended guidelines and best practice information on the safe operation of recreational craft. Chapters 2 to 9 provide guidance in relation to particular types of craft/activities. Chapters 10 and 11 provide information on safety operations and emergency procedures, while a series of 11 Appendices cover such topics as radiocommunications, collision prevention, weather and sea states, lifejacket use, passage planning, buoyage and anchoring.


Owners and operators of recreational craft should familiarise themselves with Part A of the Code, the particular Chapter in Part B appropriate to their type of vessel, together with Chapters 10, 11 and the Appendices.


Where to get the Code?

The Code of Practice is a free document and hardcopies can be obtained on request, in both English and Irish, from the Maritime Safety Policy Division of the Department at email


The Code is also available to view or download from and


For the convenience of those who may only be interested in a particular type of recreational craft, individual chapters of the Code are also available to view or download from the above websites. 


All recreational craft users are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Code of Practice and to heed the safety advice and recommendations. 


Please spread the word regarding the Code of Practice and its availability.    




Checklist of Basic Requirements and Advice


Particular attention is drawn to the following Checklist of Basic Requirements and Advice, which all owners and users of recreational craft should be aware of before taking to the water:

ü  the legal requirements in relation to the wearing and carrying of Personal Flotation Devices / Lifejackets and the need for the proper care and maintenance of such devices.  These requirements are dealt with in Part A of the Code of Practice;

ü  the need to check current weather forecasts and sea conditions prior to departure and to plan your voyage accordingly (see Appendix 6 (Weather, Sea States and Tides) and Appendix 8 of the Code of Practice for an example of a passage planning template);

ü  Pre-Departure Safety Checks and Briefing – the briefing of all persons on board on emergency procedures and the location and use of safety / emergency equipment on board, e.g. flares, radio equipment, life jackets;

ü  the need to ensure that a designated person ashore is aware of your departure and return times, where you are going, and have a procedure in place to raise the alarm if necessary;

ü  the importance of having a dependable means of communication.  VHF radio equipment is the recommended method of communication and craft users should be familiar with its use.  Where mobile phone use is proposed, the phone should at all times be fully charged and the signal strength and charge indicator should be regularly checked while the vessel is underway;

ü when operating a pleasure craft, a person must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs or any combination of drugs or of drugs and alcohol to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the craft;

ü in a marine emergency, the alarm can be raised on VHF Channel 16 or call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.


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