A POPULAR safety accessory for bushwalkers and outback travellers – Personal Locator Beacons – will now be allowed for paddlers.
Acting Main Roads and Ports Minister Steven Miles said advances in search and rescue technology meant operators of smaller craft could use personal locator beacons without compromising their safety.
“We will now allow these beacons as acceptable safety equipment on lightweight craft such as personal watercraft, more commonly called jetskis, canoes, kayaks and sailboats under six metres,” Mr Miles said.
“Current regulations require Queensland regulated ships to carry an Emergency Position Indicating Rescue Beacon (EPIRB) when operating outside of the declared smooth or partially smooth waters or other waters more than two nautical miles from land.
“We have determined it is now possible for personal watercraft (PWC) and other lightweight craft users to wear personal locator beacons.”
“However there would be some simple, common-sense conditions managing their proper use.
“Industry advocates told us there were problems with carrying an EPIRB on a PWC _ such as finding somewhere to store this important piece of safety equipment on a small craft.
“Added to this was the concern that a rider who fell off a PWC could quickly become separated from the vessel carrying the EPIRB.
“Clearly this had the potential to seriously compromise any search and rescue operations not only in relation to PWC riders but other lightweight craft users.”
Mr Miles said Maritime Safety Queensland had been sympathetic to these concerns and had consulted with groups including the Queensland Recreational Boating Council and the Australian Jet Ski Association.
“MSQ also approached our search and rescue partners including the Queensland Police Service, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and volunteer marine rescue groups looking for comment on the proposal,” he said.
“What they found was emerging technologies in search and rescue communications, meant that the use of a personal locator beacon instead of an EPIRB would not reduce the level of safety or increase their potential rescue time.”
Currently the Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Regulation 2016 requirement to carry an EPIRB, does not allow for the substitution of the EPIRB with a personal locator beacon in any situation where an EPIRB is required.
MSQ will now issue an exemption from the current legislation requirements allowing the wearing of a personal locator beacon by users of PWC and other lightweight craft where, up to now, the standard EPIRB was required.