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EPIRBs Required by Law From 2019

New regulations will require some vessels to have an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) on board.

Starting from January 1, 2019 fishing vessels between 7.5 and 24 metres in length that operate outside enclosed waters will be required to have a float-free EPIRB installed on board.

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

Maritime New Zealand general manager maritime standards Sharyn Forsyth said the new measures will save lives.

“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,” Forsyth said.

Maritime New Zealand has warned EPIRBs purchased outside of the country may not meet the required standards, or be coded in New Zealand. EPIRBs must be coded so they can be registered in New Zealand.

The new requirement was prompted by recommendations from coroners and the Transport Accident and Investigation Commission, following the sinking of vessels that resulted in the deaths of 24 people in the past 11 years.

Meeting the requirements

To meet the requirements, you must have a suitable EPIRB and bracket installed on your vessel, and the EPIRB must be registered, all by 1 January 2019.

You will need a class 2 EPIRB (activates manually or by an automatic water activation) with a category 1 bracket (automatically deploys the EPIRB when submerged at depth).

The EPIRB must:

  • meet the performance standards of IMO Resolution A.810(19)
  • meet the Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 4280.1
  • coded for New Zealand
  • labelled with the New Zealand radio label R-NZ or the RCM label.

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