New laws leave boaties at sea
On March 30, the Minister for Waterways, Joe Tripodi, signed off on a regulation making it illegal for any vessel to go more than two nautical miles offshore without a new digital electronic positioning beacon (EPIRB), worth upwards from about $600.
There will only be limited exemptions, for things such as personal water craft and kayaks.
The Minister has instructed NSW Maritime, which will enforce the new regulation, to go easy on boat owners who have not yet installed a new EPIRB, because of supply difficulties.
But boat owners will need to be able to demonstrate they have ordered one of the new 406 EPIRBs; that all other required safety equipment is present and functional; the vessel is operating within mobile telephone range; and it is less than two nautical miles from shore.
Yesterday, marine suppliers and the Wooli Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) were critical of NSW Maritime's handling of the new regulations. They said the department had done very little to instruct boaties.
Wooli VRA unit commander Stephen Reading said less than five per cent of the vessels leaving the coast at Wooli would carry one of the required EPIRBs.
"It is the same up and down the coast," he said.