Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi has reminded boat owners a “sea change” in marine safety will come into force early next year when new digital emergency radio beacons (EPIRBs) take over from the old analogue system.
From February 1, signals from 121.5MHZ EPIRBs will no longer be monitored under an international agreement which will see a world-wide switch over to the more accurate 406 MHz digital model.
“The switch to the 406 model is well underway and I urge boat owners not to wait until the last minute to update their equipment,” Tripodi said.
“From February 1, next year, aircraft and satellites will cease monitoring the outdated 121.5 MHz signal, so for safety’s sake, it's essential offshore skippers are prepared.”
Tripodi said boating regulations were amended back in July requiring analogue EPIRBs be replaced by the 406 type. This was to encourage skippers to make the switch prior to the February deadline.
“Boat owners not carrying a 406 are currently receiving warnings rather than infringement notices as part of an education campaign by NSW Maritime.
“But time is running out, and skippers must realise the new regulations will be strictly enforced from February.”
Tripodi said the requirement to carry a 406MHz EPIRB applies to all commercial operators as well as recreational boaters operating offshore.
Whereas the analogue beacon only provides rescuers with the position of a vessel in distress, the 406 model carries a unique identification code which is transmitted when the beacon is activated.
“This code provides vital information about the registered boat and its owner, ensuring a faster and more effective search and rescue response appropriate to the vessel’s size,” he said.
To comply with the new requirement, 406 MHz beacons must also be registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and carry a registration sticker.