Consultation open on float-free EPIRBs for small commercial boats in Australia

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) would like to hear from owners and operators of vessels less than 7.5 metres in length regarding the new requirement to carry a float-free EPIRB.

In July this year AMSA announced that carrying a float-free EPIRB would become mandatory for certain types of vessels from January 2021 and that AMSA would consider, in consultation with industry, alternative options for owners of smaller vessels.

AMSA General Manager of Standards Brad Groves said that the practicality of this change for smaller vessels was a concern raised by industry.

“We understand that for some vessels less than 7.5 metres in length it may not be feasible to carry a float-free EPIRB,” Mr Groves said.

“The requirements for float-free EPIRBs to be mounted in a particular way to maximise the chance of deployment means that they may not be suitable for some smaller vessels.”

AMSA is proposing several options to ensure smaller vessels are able to improve safety outcomes:

  1. carry a float-free EPIRB (no alternative)
  2. wear a personal locator beacon (PLB), in addition to a manually activated EPIRB
  3. carry a manually activated EPIRB and wear a lifejacket
  4. carry a manually activated EPIRB in a buoyant storage device

The consultation only applies to domestic commercial vessels less than 7.5 metres in length, without level flotation, operating in offshore waters and is open to the public until Friday, February 28, 2019.

“This is a complex and diverse industry and it is clear that a one size fits all approach does not work,” Mr Groves said.

“We want to hear what people out on the water think about these options or if they have a better idea that might achieve a comparable level of safety as carrying a float-free EPIRB.”


Published since 1978, Ausmarine is the foremost magazine servicing the Australian and New Zealand commercial, military and government marine sectors.