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Pelican Waters QLD - Boating and Fishing
Safety Equipment

Safety equipment for registered and non-registered boats under the GSO
The GSO means General Safety Obligation and requires all boat owners and operators to make sure the boat is safe, appropriately equipped and crewed, and operated in a safe manner.

Boats requiring registration must carry the regulated safety equipment.

Additional safety equipment recommended in the Standard should also be carried to satisfy the General Safety Obligation. 
This allows boat owners and operators to choose the equipment best suited for the type of boat and intended voyage.

Boats not requiring registration do not have to carry the regulated safety equipment, but need to satisfy their General Safety Obligation.

When deciding what to take on board, remember your obligation – if you fail to carry a piece of equipment that could have helped to prevent an accident, you could be prosecuted.

Compulsory wearing of PFD

Under 12, under 4.8, underway Children under the age of 12 in open boats under 4.8 metres must now wear properly fitted life jackets while underway.

A boat is underway when it is not at anchor, made fast to the shore or aground (underway includes drifting).

This applies to commercial, fishing and recreational boats.

Why the changes?

In 2005 there were a number of marine incidents resulting in people drowning while boating in Queensland waters.

In response, Maritime Safety Queensland made changes to the laws so that wearing a life jacket became compulsory in high risk situations.

In circumstances of heightened risk the chances of survival are greater in the event of an incident if a life jacket is being worn.

The changes are expected to improve marine safety and lessen boating fatalities.

Who does it apply to?

The regulation will only apply to those boats that are already required to carry life jackets as part of their safety equipment.

Experience has shown that even if there are life jackets nearby, there is often not enough time to put them on when faced with a life threatening situation.

Emergency or high risk situations can happen very quickly on the water, even if conditions look calm.

Once in the water it is extremely difficult and in some instances impossible to put your life jacket on.

So while most people know that life jackets save lives “It is not a life saver if you’re not wearing it”.

Personal flotation devices (PFD's) / life jackets

PFS Type 1

  • For use in smooth, partially smooth and open waters.
  • Must comply with Australian Standard 1512.
  • Provides sufficient flotation to support the body and head and has reflective tape for visibility.
  • The flotation collar keeps your head above water.
    pfs type 1

PFS Type 2

  • For smooth or partially smooth waters only.
  • Must comply with Australian Standard 1499.
  • Will keep you afloat but does not have a collar to keep your head above water.
    pfs type 2

PFS Type 3

  • For smooth or partially smooth waters only.
  • Must comply with Australian Standard 1499.
  • Will keep you afloat but does not have a collar to keep your head above water.
    pfs type 3

Inflatable PFD's (life jackets)

Inflatable life jackets are now approved equipment and have reduced in price making them affordable and a good alternative to the standard PFD type 1.

The advantage of an inflatable life jacket is that it can be worn while on board with a degree of comfort and minimal restrictions, encouraging all on board to wear a jacket as a safety precaution.

An inflatable life jacket would be a good alternative for children under 12 who must wear a life jacket when on boats under 4.8 metres in length, especially in summer.
Inflatable jackets must be gas inflated and not rely on oral inflation only.

Inflatable PFD's must also show a legible expiry date and be serviced by the manufacturer or authorised service centre annually.


Coastal and SOLAS life jackets
  • These jackets have more flotation than PFD type 1 and are recommended to be carried by boats operating long distances offshore.
  • Regulation sets Coastal and SOLAS specifications as the minimum requirements for life jackets on commercial vessels.
  • They are bulky life jackets designed to keep the body afloat for a long period.
  • They have reflective tape and a whistle to attract attention.
    solace life jackets

There are additional acceptable standards for coastal life jackets. Contact Maritime Safety Queensland for details.Web:

Inflatable personal flotation devices and life jackets that rely solely on oral inflation for buoyancy are not acceptable.

Inflatable PFD's must show a legible expiry date and be serviced by the manufacturer or manufacturer’s agent, or be replaced before the expiry date.

PFD's – Are yours up to standard?

All Personal Flotation Devices (PFD's, or life jackets) must comply with Australian Standard AS 1512 for PFD 1, AS 1499 for PFD 2 or AS 2260 for PFD 3.

To meet the requirements, all PFD's must have the following markings:

  • Manufacturer’s name, trade name or trademark.
  • The words “PFD TYPE 1” , “PFD TYPE 2” or “PFD TYPE 3” in block letters not less than 6 mm high, with the words below: “CAUTION:

May not be suitable for all conditions” (or for a child’s PFD, the words “CHILD’S PFD TYPE 1” and a caution advising that a child wearing the PFD should be under competent supervision).

  • Manufacturer’s model identification, batch identification and year of manufacture.
  • Intended body mass range.
  • Illustrated instructions for donning the PFD.
  • Instructions for storage and care.
  • Information related to replacement or checking of gas cylinders of inflatable PFD's.

A PFD with a Standards Australia mark, including the number 1512 must also have a
marking identifying it as a PFD Type 1.

Also check the condition of your PFD to ensure:

  • Parts which are visible when the wearer is submerged (from the armholes up) are high visibility in colour.
  • It is in good working order, and elements such as stitching and colour have not deteriorated with age.
pfd chart


All boats, regardless of whether they are registrable, operating beyond smooth and partially smooth waters must carry an Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) if more than 2 nautical miles from land.

EPIRB's should be used only as a last resort if the boat or crew are in grave danger.

Use other communications or signaling equipment first, such as marine radio, flares, V-sheet or a mobile phone.

Search and rescue authorities respond to all activations, therefore it is important to let them know immediately if assistance is no longer required.

There is no penalty for accidentally activating an EPIRB but remember to either radio the local volunteer marine radio organisation or call Rescue Coordination Centre’s 24-hour emergency number on 1800 641 792.

To avoid accidental activations store EPIRB's in an accessible place away from gear and passengers.

EPIRB's have expiry dates, and if past or near this date, the unit must be serviced and then replaced by the manufacturer or an authorised agent.

If the unit is unserviceable:

  • return it directly to the manufacturer
  • it must be serviced by the manufacturer or an authorised agent.

In Queensland, all vessels operating beyond smooth or partially smooth waters or more than two nautical miles from land, must carry a 406 MHz digital distress beacon.

To ensure you comply with the legislation you must:

  • carry a 406 MHz EPIRB if you operate beyond smooth or partially smooth waters or more than two nautical miles from land in Queensland (fines will apply)
  • ensure that your EPIRB complies with the Australian / New Zealand standard 4280.1:2003
  • ensure your new 406 MHz beacon is registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) – registration is free
  • advise AMSA of any change to ownership and vessel details.

Registration stickers are issued by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and provide EPIRB owners and marine inspectors with proof of current registration. The sticker will note the Hex ID/UIN of the beacon, its registration expiry date (two years from date of issue) and boat name or owner’s name depending on type of beacon and use.

This registration sticker must be affixed to the beacon.

A fine may result if a current sticker is not affixed to a beacon during a safety equipment inspection.


  • Boaties are reminded to dispose of old 121.5 MHz EPIRB’s at Battery World stores around Australia.
  • This is a free service.

NOTE: Do not dispose of your beacon in general waste as it will end up in landfill and could be activated inadvertently.

epirb epirb

Distress flares

All vessels operating beyond smooth water limits must carry orange and red hand flares as part of their safety equipment. Packs of flares contain two orange smoke flares for daytime use and two red flares for use in the dark.

Flares are a way for a boat in trouble to attract the attention of other boats or aircraft in the area.

A distress flare should only be used when other methods of alerting others to a problem have failed.

First try contacting other boats or shore based authorities using a marine radio or mobile phone.

Orange smoke flares can be seen in clear conditions at sea level from a distance of up to four km and even further from an aircraft.

Red hand flares can be seen at sea level at a distance of up to 10 km's.

Always read the instructions and familiarise yourself with them before storing your flares on board.

Store the flares in a dry place where they will be readily accessible in an emergency.

distress flares flare

Signaling devices
Signaling devices are compulsory for all boats operating between sunset and sunrise.


A torch, fluorescent light, lantern or cyalume stick are all suitable as long as they generate enough light to be seen by other boats and prevent a collision and attract attention.

Fire fighting equipment
Fire fighting equipment is required to be carried by all vessels over 5 metres in length.

The most efficient piece of fire fighting equipment is a fire extinguisher, however it must be capable of extinguishing a fire quickly and effectively. Remember, fire extinguishers must be serviced at specified intervals.

fire extinguisher

Navigation equipment
All boats operating in partially smooth waters and beyond should carry some form of navigation equipment for example, charts or Beacon to Beacon, compass or GPS.


Beacon to Beacon Directory
The Beacon to Beacon Directory is recommended for all boats operating in applicable areas.

beacon to beacon

Other equipment

Pumping and Bailing
All boats should carry suitable bailing equipment.

For boats under 5 metres, buckets are considered suitable bailing equipment.

Boats 5 metres and over require a bilge pump .


Manual propulsion
Boats under six metres in length should carry oars or paddles in case of emergency.

If the boat has fittings for rowlocks, carry the correct length oars with rowlocks securely attached.

If not, the paddles should be long and of sufficient strength to do the job.


Drinking water
All boats should carry sufficient drinking water for everyone on board for the duration of the trip.

drinking water


Most commonly used by small craft as it has excellent holding power in mud and sand

dalforth anchor

Used by larger, heavier boats


Designed for coral or rock by using prongs that can straighten out, creating less environmental impact

reef anchor

SEA ANCHOR – A small drogue acting like a parachute, dramatically slows the rate of drift.

sea anchor
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