The New Zealand’s national regulatory, compliance and response agency for the safety, security and environmental protection of coastal and inland waterways, MaritimeNZ, has reminded operators of New Zealand that they must install float-free EPIRB distress beacons on commercial fishing vessels by 1 January 2019. The regulation applies to vessels between 7.5 meters and 24 meters operating outside enclosed waters.
Domonic Venz, Maritime NZ’s Assistant Compliance Manager for Southern Region, who has experience in commercial fishing, says, “Float-free EPIRBs really do increase your chances of survival because they call for help when you can’t. It’s easy to get one on your boat”.
He added in the Maritime NZ’s reminder, “Seafarers can still manually activate a float-free EPIRB if they find themselves in an emergency situation and have the time to do so”.
A float-free auto-activating EPIRB can send a call for help within minutes of being submerged in water, without any action by the crew. Float-free EPIRBs offer significant safety advantages for crew and passengers on vessels in distress. From January 2021, float-free auto-activating EPIRBs will be mandatory in Australia, too.
Compulsory float-free EPIRBs are supported by the industry. The requirement was introduced following the deaths of 24 people over the last 11 years on inshore fishing boats that sank with manual EPIRBs on board that were unable to be deployed.