The Royal Yachting Association is pressing the UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) to review the carriage requirement for pyrotechnic flares and to recognize the modern technologies that are now available for distress alerting and locating. Currently, leisure craft over 45 feet (13.7m) are required to carry four parachute flares and four hand-held flares.
“In today’s modern age there is no compelling case to support the mandatory requirement of flares as a practical and useful method of initiating a distress alert and location,” said Stuart Carruthers, RYA cruising manager.
EPIRBs and GPS-linked DSC VHF for distress alerting and signalling lamps or EVDS (Electronic Visual Distress Signals) for final-mile location provide mariners with a more effective and far less dangerous means of initiating a distress alert and, more importantly, a timely response. However, these modern technologies are not recognised in the current UK regulations.
“The RYA has been shown no persuasive evidence that flares have search-and-rescue benefits that cannot be provided by modern technology,” Carruthers said. “Couple this with the significantly reduced disposal service for flares and the argument for continuing to mandate flares becomes unreasonable and illogical.”