Transport Canada is currently reviewing the requirements for pyrotechnics on pleasure boats. Letting off flares has always been the action of last resort for sailors in distress. With the wide variety of communications tools available to boaters, the requirement for flares may be redundant. The number of flares required on boats and the need for flares at all in certain waters are under consideration in Ottawa.
Now the Royal Yachting Association of Britain is pressing for the removal of flares as a requirement for seafarers. They are insisting that no persuasive evidence that flares have search and rescue benefits that cannot be provided by modern technology.
Certainly Flares have their use in remote location where no-one has a VHF radio and where help from the setting off of an EPIRB would take hours if not days. I am sure that most long range cruisers would agree that they require these safety devices. However, it may be different in high population areas such as Lake Ontario or Lake Simcoe.
The RYA is pressing the MCA (Maritime & Coastguard Agency) to review the carriage requirement for pyrotechnic flares and to recognise the modern technologies that are now available for distress alerting and locating. ‘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’ says 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. The RYA has been shown no persuasive evidence that flares have search and rescue benefits that cannot be provided by modern technology. Couple this with the significantly reduced disposal service for flares and the argument for continuing to mandate flares becomes unreasonable and illogical’ concludes Stuart.