Lifejackets and Personal Flotation Devices

PFD Demonstration

A Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is a generic term used to describe both lifejackets and inflatable buoyancy aids. The main difference between a lifejacket and a buoyancy aid is that a lifejacket is designed to turn an unconscious person face up on entering the water, whereas the buoyancy aid is just an aid to staying afloat and will not turn the wearer the right way up or keep their head clear of the water.

Every lifejacket is a Personal Flotation Device but not every Personal Flotation Device is a lifejacket.

Fishing boats must carry an approved abandon ship lifejacket for each person on board. It must:

  • Be SOLAS approved.
  • Have a signalling whistle, light, towing strap and retro-reflective tape.

Donning notices should be displayed where practicable in the wheelhouse and other prominent positions.

In addition, every fishing vessel must carry a PFD for every person on board. The PFD must be worn at all times by the crew of the fishing vessel, when on the exposed deck of the vessel, or in the case of open undecked vessels, on board the vessel, whether at sea, in harbour or coming to and from moorings. See the Fishing Vessel (Personal Flotation Devices) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 586 of 2001) as amended by S.I. No. 401 of 2018.

Further Information

For further information on PFDs see:

Visit the BIM website for information on the Enhanced Safety Scheme and PFDs fitted with a Personal Locator Beacon.