The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) legislated changes that will require certain types of commercial vessels – including trawlers – to carry float-free Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) from 1 January 2021.
The new legislation followed the number of capsized incidents that took place in Australian waters between 2015-2017, highlighting that none of these commercial vessels were equipped with a means of automatically alerting search and rescue authorities to their unfolding plight.
As the regulation will come into force in January 2021, operators have time to comply with the new safety requirement. In addition, AMSA recommends all interested parties to get on board and purchase or upgrade their EPIRB now, before the 1 January 2021 deadline, to avoid a last-minute rush.
AMSA’s Chair, Stuart Richey commented that the cost of capsizing at sea without the ability to automatically alert search and rescue authorities, was far greater for commercial vessel crew, owners and operators than the cost of a float-free EPIRB itself.
Richey added that
I have been a commercial fisherman in Tasmania for decades and all of my boats have float-free EPIRBs installed onboard. Now is the time to act – don’t leave it to the last minute.
In the meatime, New Zealand mandated float-free EPIRBs in January 2019 and, just two months later, three commercial fishermen were rescued from the water after their boat was swamped by a wave.