NMMA backs removal of life jacket type code

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The National Marine Manufacturers Association said it supports the Coast Guard’s decision to discontinue the life jacket type code scheme that has been used for years to label and differentiate life jackets and their use.

The impetus for the decision, which takes effect Oct. 22, is that the codes (types I, II, III, IV and V), which are unique to the United States, confused recreational boaters.

"We applaud the U.S. Coast Guard's work to help eliminate confusion from the PFD labeling system and ease the burden on boaters who may not be able to easily decipher the codes or their meanings,” NMMA director of federal and legal affairs Nicole Vasilaros said in a statement. “We must now remain committed to educating consumers about how best to choose a PFD for their specific needs."

The move is also expected to benefit manufacturers, simplifying the cost of doing business for international manufacturers and leading to innovations in life jacket design.

“Along with a wider variety, aligning our standards with those [in Canada] and across the Atlantic will help reduce prices, as manufacturers won’t have to make products unique to the U.S. market,” Chris Edmonston, president of the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and chairman of the National Safe Boating Council, said in a statement.

Recreational boaters will have to abide by current standards when they use older life jackets marked with the type labeling because they will remain legal for use.