Safety on the Water

Important Safety Information – Operation of Marine Safety Regulations 2012

Under Marine Safety Regulations 2012 (Vic) came into operation.

Unlike previous regulations, the new Marine Safety Regulations 2012 (Vic) make specific reference to stand up paddle boards and set out the safety equipment that is now required by law to be carried when you are undertaking stand up paddle activities in Victorian waters.

The SUP VIC Committee, in collaboration with BASS SUP and other interested parties, was engaged in the consultative process in the formulation of new regulations and provided a submission to the Department of Transport – Victoria about the specific needs of stand up paddling. The Committee believes that the resulting regulations provide a good balance between ensuring that our sport is conducted as safely as is practicable but is not over-regulated.

What do I need to know?

First, you need to understand that the regulations distinguish between three types of Victorian waters. We want to avoid lawyer-speak, but you need to know that the regulations define “Coastal Waters”, “Enclosed Waters” and “Inland Waters”.

Coastal waters are just that, waters that are not otherwise defined as enclosed or inland waters. Essentially, for Melbourne, Surf Coast and Mornington Peninsula-based paddlers, this means the surf or ocean areas in which we may surf or paddle on our SUP’s.

Enclosed waters are specifically listed. With regard to the majority of our membership, this includes all of Port Phillip Bay (including Corio and Swan Bays), Western Port Bay, the Barwon River upstream from the Ocean Grove – Barwon Heads bridge, Anderson Inlet, Gippsland Lakes, Mallacoota, Port Fairy, Shallow Inlet and Wingan Inlet.

Inland waters means lakes, rivers, creeks and streams (but not those within declared ports).

What do I have to wear or carry when I am SUP’ing?

The regulations require the following:

–  if you are SUP’ing within 400 metres of shore on coastal, enclosed or inland waters and you are 10 years of age or older, you are not legally required to carry any specific safety equipment.

–  however, children less than 10 years old must wear a PFD type 1, PFD type 2 or PFD type 3 at all times.

–  you must wear a PFD type 1, a PFD type 2 or a PFD type 3 if at any time you are more than 400 metres from shore. This requirement applies whether you are paddling on coastal, enclosed or inland waters.

–  if you are in coastal waters and are more than 2 nautical miles(3.7km) from the coast, in addition to the wearing of a PFD you must carry:  
(i) a compass, 

(ii) 2 hand-held orange smoke signals,

(iii) 2 hand-held red distress flares, 

(iv) a buoyant waterproof torch, and 

(v) an EPIRB that complies with AS/NZ 4280.1:2003, is registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and has an up-to-date registration sticker.

Anything Else?

In addition to the above requirements, the Committee of SUP VIC strongly recommends that all members also wear a leg rope at all times when you are on the water, and most especially when in the surf. You should not put yourself in a situation where your board might cause harm to you or others because it gets away from you and is not under your control. The Committee of SUP VIC considers a leg rope to be the most effective safety item available to you in all SUP activities, flat water or surf.

If you plan to do any “downwinder” paddles the Committee also recommends that you wear a PFD, regardless of whether or not you plan to be more than 400 metres from the coast. Common downwind routes particularly in the Melbourne Bayside region routinely take paddlers beyond 400 metres from shore, therefore making PFDs mandatory.

PFDs and other safety equipment can be purchased from boating retailers. You can also contact your preferred SUP retailer to enquire about availability.


If you have any questions about the operation of the regulations please contact a Committee member, or email us.


The Committee of SUP Vic provides this message to you for your information only and nothing contained on this page is to be construed as providing legal advice on the operation of the safety laws in force in Victoria as they apply to stand up paddle activities.