The Auckland Council is changing the region's boating bylaw to make the wearing of lifejackets compulsory on small boats.
A council spokesperson said 12 of the 19 victims of boating-related deaths in Auckland in the past five years had lifejackets available but were not wearing them.
As well as compulsory lifejackets on vessels six metres long or less, carrying a communication device will be mandatory and the harbourmaster will be able to stop anyone being in charge of a vessel while intoxicated.
Harbourmaster Andrew Hayton said the proposed changes were developed in response to community concerns.
"They look at the headlines - someone's drowned - and people are asking themselves 'how can we stop this happening, it's a big cost to our society, what can we do to stop these tragedies happening. There has been a big push from certain parts of the community for the council to actually take action."
Kite, sail or paddle boarders wearing wetsuits and people below deck while a boat was anchored would not have to wear a lifejacket, Mr Hayton said.
Mike Cahill, of the Hibiscus Coast Boating Club, said it supports the wearing of lifejackets as a safety precaution, but disagrees with making it mandatory on small boats and doesn't think a bylaw would reduce the number of drownings.
Mr Cahill said the policy is poorly drafted and out of step with neighbouring regions and national bodies. The club will make a submission and is encouraging other boaties to do so.
People have until March to have their say on the proposal and the changes could be in place by next summer.