RYA calls for end of compulsory flares

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has responded to a consultation, launched by the Department of Transport (DfT), on the disposal of pyrotechnic flares.

The consultation sought views on the safe disposal of marine pyrotechnics, looking for a practical alternative to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s temporary ‘last-resort’ service.

The RYA says that the compulsory carriage of flares by recreational boaters is an outdated and ineffective approach to maritime safety.

Having to carry flares, the RYA says, directly creates the problem of their disposal.

The RYA’s main case for the removal of the compulsory carriage is both the technological advances in alternative equipment, and the inherent lack of reliability and effectiveness that the flares provide.

“Modern technology such as radios, phones and other satellite connected technologies provide safer, affordable and significantly more reliable alternatives to pyrotechnic flares,” says Phil Horton, RYA environment and sustainability manager. “It is disappointing that this consultation does not consider removing mandatory carriage requirements as part of the solution as, in our opinion, that is the only viable way ahead.

“However, should the MCA continue to require the carriage of flares, then the RYA’s view is that extended producer responsibility is the only reasonable solution for their safe disposal. A levy on the purchase of new flares, and a requirement for vendors to recover out-of-date product, would ensure that industry addresses the issue.”

3 responses to “RYA calls for end of compulsory flares”

  1. Mr The Sailor says:

    Any business who supplies flares is legally obliged to take-in old ones and dispose of them safely and responsibly. I have had no issues with local chandlers accepting my old flares in the Solent area. Pyrotechnic-style flares still have a place and valid use – LED flares aren’t always that good at signalling to air-sea rescue as to your actual precise location despite what the manufacturers claim. I’m not sure how when at sea, a mobile phone or radio willl simplfy confirming your precise location as the emergency services close in on your GPS position. I can imagine it now “no, turn to your port a bit more, no too much, see us down here waving my mobile phone which has no signal at you? no, you’ve gone past us, back up a bit, over to starboard a bit more”………it’ll be like an extract from a Carry-on film.

  2. Geoff Sheddick says:

    The RNLI’s response will be very informative, as will as any responses from the Coastguard rescue helicopter service provider – in particular in relation to final identification of the casualty in circumstances such as multiple other vessels in close proximity (eg think MOB during the Round the Island Race), smoke as a wind strength and direction indicator etc

  3. Nick says:

    I think that the journalist that wrote this piece has misquoted the RYA.

    “compulsory carriage of flares by recreational boaters”

    There is no compulsion for recreational boat owners in the UK to carry pyro distress flares!

    There are many other means of alerting distress which are acceptable to SOLAS.

    I agree with the RYA that distress flares have had their day and we do not carry any at all on our yacht. Instead we have DSC VHF, EPIRB, AIS transponder, PLBs and LED flares.

    Apart from the obvious paradox that pyro flares are dangerous yet supposed to be safety gear I don’t buy any because the manufacturers are shirking responsibility for disposal by not having an adequate system of disposal after expiry but instead pass the buck onto the Coastguard at tax payer expense and the RNLI which is a charity.

    Yes chandlery shops will take expired flares if you buy new ones and companies like Ocean Safety will take them in for disposal for a fee.