Finland's new Water Traffic Act enters into force in June
The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom says the new Water Traffic Act, which enters into force in the beginning of June, updates and brings together different statutes concerning water traffic and, thus, provides all boaters clearer rules for safe boating. Especially the responsible role of the boatmaster is emphasized in the new Act.
In the new Water Traffic Act, which enters into force on 1 June 2020, the of the master of a watercraft is emphasized even more and charter boats are freed from survey requirements.
“The aim of the reform is to improve the safety of water traffic and to simplify the daily lives of boaters now that the provisions and instructions can be found in one package. We believe that the clearer rules support all boaters and, thus, aid in spreading a responsible boating culture”, stresses Deputy Director-General Jarkko Saarimäki.
The part of the water traffic rules in the Act is more comprehensive, and the Act covers the rules on keeping out of the way, the conditions for look-out, the technical requirements of watercraft, as well as instructions on how to act in canals. Water traffic signs with their pictures and explanations have also been included in the new Act, but the reform does not entail any new significant musts or fines.
The boatmaster is responsible for the safety of the boat and the people on board - and he or she also ensures that everyone wears a life jacket if circumstances so require.
“A significant change in the new Water Traffic Act is that the responsibility of the master is emphasized. Before going out on the water, it must be always known who bears the responsibility in the boat”, says Head of Team Suvi Toppari.
The master must ensure the safety of the watercraft and ensure that all the people on board the watercraft have been given instructions on safe activities. The master is also responsible for ensuring that equipment is easily available, which means, for example, that personal flotation devices cannot be kept under lock and key during the journey.
The master is responsible for ensuring that everyone wears a personal flotation device if circumstances so require. In the Act, there is no obligation to wear them at all times, but especially when the boat is an open boat and it is moving, it is sensible to wear them at all times, because there is not necessarily enough time to put them on in an unexpected situation.
As of 1 June, there must be an appropriate nautical chart onboard during a boat journey if the nature of the journey requires route planning.