Safety update

April 2002 Regular position reporting

This safety update is issued to raise awareness of the potential serious risk to safety from the absence of regular position reporting. It provides safe practice tips for how best to reduce the risks involved to alert people to the importance of regular position reporting.


This safety update is being issued to remind the maritime community of the need for regular position reporting.

The loss of a fishing vessel with all hands in 1999 and again in May 2001 has brought into question whether the benefits of a mandatory regular ship position reporting system would outweigh the disadvantages. The searches for these particular vessels were made more difficult than might otherwise have been the case because of delays before the vessels were reported overdue.

Precautions and procedures

If a fishing vessel is overwhelmed by a catastrophe so severe as to prevent its sending off a distress call or setting off an EPIRB, there would be some value in its having reported its position, course and speed within the last 24 hours.

Information on Regular Position Reporting

The carriage of a "float off" 406kHz (not a 121.5kHz) EPIRB is also a wise precaution to alert authorities of a vessel's position in the event of a sudden accident. It activates automatically, is programmed with the ship's unique identity and has a wide coverage area. 121.5 EPIRBs only give an approximate position and are due to be phased out in 2006.

It is not envisaged that daily position reporting will be made compulsory for every New Zealand fishing boat. It is recommended, however, that Skippers give serious consideration to voluntarily reporting their positions, courses and speeds at the same time each day to a nominated person. A procedure should also be established for the nominated person to follow should a vessel fail to make contact within a scheduled reporting period.

Safe practice tips

Reports may be sent by one of the following means:

  • A daily schedule with a coast radio station on VHF or HF
  • A daily schedule with a private radio station on VHF or HF
  • A regular Inmarsat-C link with a nominated person ashore
  • A regular mobile telephone call or facsimile to a nominated person ashore

The method chosen will depend on the area of operation and the equipment carried on the vessel. The broadcast signals are preferred to the telephone calls because of their ability to reach more than one receiver simultaneously.

We can only be an effective and successful search and rescue organisation with your co-operation. Please get into the habit of reporting your movements every 24 hours. The absence of such a regular call will alert the nominated person. They in turn would alert the search and rescue authorities.

Original source content - Boat Notice 012002, April: Regular position reporting.

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