Consultation: Compulsory “float-free” distress beacons for commercial fishing boats?

Wednesday, 12 April 2017


Consultation begins (April 13) on changes to six maritime rules, including one that would make automatic “float-free” emergency position-indicating radio beacons, EPIRB distress beacons, compulsory for more commercial fishing boats.

Maritime NZ Director, Keith Manch, said this proposal comes from Coroners’ and Transport Accident Investigation Commission recommendations to make fishing boats safer. 

The recommendations followed the death of 24 people over the last 11 years, following the sinking of inshore fishing boats. Manually-activated EPIRBs were carried on board these boats but, for various reasons, the crews were unable to activate them.

Currently, fishing boats operating more than 200 nautical miles from New Zealand’s coast must have EPIRBs that automatically float-free of a sinking vessel and activate. Fishing boats operating within 200 nautical miles must have either “float-free”or manually-activated EPIRBs

The proposed change would apply to fishing boats of between 6 metres and 24 metres operating outside enclosed waters (i.e. outside harbours, estuaries and other inland or sheltered waters).
Other proposed changes

The other five proposed changes to maritime rules apply to various types of vessels, and remove outdated requirements, allow for new technology, and reduce compliance costs. They are:

Tugs: allow the use of current international stability criteria set by “classification societies” for towing operations

Fishing boats: allow more modern satellite search and rescue technology as an alternative to radar transponders on fishing vessels operating beyond 200 nautical miles from the coast.

Fishing boats: remove the requirement for fishing boats operating in some areas to carry a radio with narrow-band direct printing – this is an old technology which has been replaced by modern radio systems in many countries, including New Zealand.

Sailing vessels: allowing for modern design, and removing the requirement that manual bilge pumps must be operable from above the deck.

Commercial vessels (excluding SOLAS vessels): remove the requirement that some vessel types built before 2014 must meet a 2014 standard for electrical installations. However, significant electrical work done from 2014 must comply with the 2014 standard.

Consultation documents will be available on the Maritime NZ website from 4pm tomorrow (April 13). Submissions are due by 5pm, 14 May 2017.
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Maritime New Zealand Media Line: +64 4 499 7318 








Last Updated ( Wednesday, 12 April 2017 )