For years a life jacket for each person on board a boat was standard boat operating procedure. Children under 12 years of age must wear their life jacket.
In recent years, new technology has given anglers smaller floating devices, known as "float tubes" and "belly boats," to get to their favorite fishing spots. Float tubes and belly boats are not classified as a vessel and so don't require a life jacket. However, anglers using small pontoons that are propelled by oars are required to carry a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
"If a fisherman is sitting above the water and the vessel is designed to be rowed or paddled, then a life jacket is required on the vessel," said Beate Galda, FWP Enforcement Administrator. Contact the FWP Regional Offices for details on this and other boating questions.