Rules changes affect all craft

Game fishing diving and fishing charter boats will have to carry float-free EPIRBs.

Changes to Maritime Rules that come into effect on March 15 this year will affect both recreational and commercial boats.

Sailing boats no longer have to have manual bilge pumps operable from above the deck, which allows for more modern designs.

Modern technology carried on board most fishing boats is recognised with rule changes that allow satellite search and rescue technology, as an alternative to radar transponders on fishing vessels operating beyond 200 nautical miles from the coast.

The requirement for fishing boats operating in some areas to carry a radio with narrow-band direct printing has been removed. The “old technology” has been replaced by modern radio systems in many countries, including New Zealand.

Float free EPIRBs will also be compulsory on all fishing boats between 7.5 metres and 24 metres operating outside enclosed waters (outside harbours, estuaries and other inland or sheltered waters). The ‘float free’ rule comes into effect on January 1, 2019.

The rule has been prompted by recommendations from Coroners and the Transport Accident and Investigation Commission, following the deaths of 24 people over the last 11 years on inshore fishing boats that sank.

Float-free EPIRBs will automatically deploy and activate when submerged in water.

“Crews in these accidents had manual EPIRBs on board, but were unable to activate them,” says Maritime NZ General Manager Maritime Standards Sharyn Forsyth.

“We want to give people plenty of warning of the new requirement in the lead up to next January. We hope this notice period will assist operators who are replacing their old EPIRBs over the coming months. This new measure will save lives.”

The float free rule change comes after consultation and is supported by New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen President Doug Saunders-Loder.

“This is a practical change that will make commercial fishing safer and help save lives - a core priority for our organisation,” he says.