Boaties caught speeding or without lifejackets this summer could face a $300 fine.
Maritime New Zealand is trialling a "no excuses" policy for those who break local council's bylaws when on the water.
Eight councils are taking part in the trial which means random unannounced checks and fines for those caught breaking the rules.
Under maritime rules, it is a skipper's responsibility to carry a properly fitting lifejacket for each person on board and ensure they wear them when conditions are dangerous.
Local authorities in some parts of the country, such as the Hawke's Bay, go further, insisting everyone must wear at lifejacket at all times if they are on a boat less than 6m long.
Hawke Bay harbourmaster Martin Moore said it was time for a tougher approach.
"We issue them with an infringement notice, which will then be followed by an investigation procedure and if there is no satisfactory explanation as to why they weren't complying with the bylaws then they will be issued with a fine.
"Basically it's a no excuses campaign. If people don't know about the rules by now they've had their heads in the sand somewhere."
Amy Yerro, whose father Taulagi Afamasaga died in last month's Kaipara Harbour boating tragedy, hopes taking a tougher line with boaties will save lives.
Mr Afamasaga and seven others died when the boat they were on capsized while crossing the bar in treacherous conditions. Some on board were not wearing lifejackets.
Ms Yerro said family and friends now always wore a lifejacket out on the water, but she knew the message was not getting through to everybody.
"It's summer nobody really wants to wear a lifejacket, it's hot out there and lifejackets can be heavy. I don't know why people don't wear them - but it's for their safety.
"The ocean has no remorse for what it does to people, so people need to be more aware of their surroundings while out on the ocean."
Commodore of the Tauranga Yacht and Boat Club, Nick Wrinch, said he understood the tougher approach but questioned whether it was the right one.
"They need to be careful not to alienate people. Education is so important when trying to get people on side and making the right decisions for themselves."
Coastguard Ray Burge supported the idea of wearing a lifejackets on boats at all times.
"It's almost impossible to put a lifejacket on once you're in the water, or even to locate it when you need it and it's stowed away.
"The simplest thing is to have it on incase you need it, if you do end up in the water it increases your survival chances with it on," he said.
Ms Yerro hopes the the summer trial will become permanent.
"I believe its something they should be doing constantly really.
"There's not enough people on the waters to watch out for everyone like is done on the roads, so something like that on the water would be good."