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People have been unwittingly breaking the law

One area of boating which often causes confusion is the safety requirements for kayaks.

Kayaking continues to become more and more popular, particularly with anglers, and some kayakers are these days heading a long way offshore to locations that were once the exclusive domain of boats.

Some kayaks now even have sails, like some of the pedal-powered Hobies, making offshore missions easier than they have ever been.

These sorts of kayakers are usually very well prepared and aware of what they have to carry, but for the average kayaker just looking for some family fun, safety probably isn’t a primary concern until they start to expand their horizons.

If they do want to head offshore, just like boat owners they need to make the right safety gear is stowed on their kayak.

While the safety guidelines for traditional boats are very clearly defined, that hasn't always been the case for paddle craft.

It means many people have been unwittingly breaking the law, and even worse, endangering their own safety while on the water.

However, the rapidly increasing popularity of paddle craft in WA waters saw the Department of Transport announce new safety measures for users to help make paddling safer.

The Paddle Safe brochure spells out exactly what safety items are required to be carried by paddle craft users such as those on kayaks, surf skis and canoes.

"Recreational canoes, kayaks, surf skis, inflatables or similar paddle craft that are propelled by a person using a paddle who is on or in the craft must comply with WA marine laws," the brochure explains.

Items covered in Paddle Safe include lifejackets, flares, bilge pump/bailers and EPIRBs.

There are simple explanations about what is needed within 400 metres of shore, from 400m to two nautical miles offshore, from 2-5 nautical miles offshore, and more than five miles from shore.

There are also a number of useful tips for on-water safety in the brochure, including suggestions on how to make yourself more visible to other boaters.

The brochure explains that navigations lights are also needed at night.

For a copy of the Paddle Safe brochure and sticker contact the Marine Safety Hotline on 1300 863 308 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The brochure can also be viewed online at http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/mediaFiles/mar_B_PaddleSafe.pdf .

The manufacturers say the electrical impulse does not in any way attract sharks to the area.

Shark Shields are easy to carry on a kayak, and can be switched on and off as needed, with the antenna simply dropped into the water via a scupper hole, or over the side.

Some kayakers prefer to leave them on all the time when on open water, while many kayak anglers switch them on when they hook a fish, believing that is the time a shark is most likely to be attracted to the kayak.

Either way, if you need to use the Shark Shield just once, then it has paid for itself.

Caption: There are new safety guidelines for offshore kayakers.