The United States Coast Guard has stipulated that as of February 26, 2016, all commercial vessels sailing in U.S. coastal waters must have an approved survival craft onboard that ensures no part of an individual is immersed in water. In essence, this means that basic life floats and similar survival systems must be replaced by new IBA craft in order for a vessel to meet new inspections requirements. An Inflatable Buoyant Apparatus (IBA) completely separates the person from the water. There is a water-proof barrier between them and the water, helping to protect from both the cold and from shark attack to the legs. IBAs are available in capacities ranging from 4 person to 100 person (US) / 150 person (Canada).
This new regulation applies to certain small passenger vessels, offshore supply vessels, sailing school vessels, cargo vessels, commercial fishing vessels and manned offshore platforms. As has always been the case, the key factors for determining what IBA or life raft will meet your needs are:
What is the size of your vessel?
What is the passenger load?
Does it stay in local waters, or does it enter international waters?
If it sounds like this new regulation may apply to you, we urge you to check out the full text of the USCG regulation is at https://www.uscg.mil/d13/cfvs/PDFs/HQPolLtr15_05SurCraft.pdf