NEWS - Minister calls on boaters to assist VHF radio review

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ACMA discussion paper outlines a range of ideas aimed at achieving more effective and efficient use of VHF radio

NSW Ports and Waterways Minister, Joe Tripodi, has called on the recreational boating community to provide feedback to a review of the regulatory arrangements for VHF marine radios.

A discussion paper has been released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) following concerns about declining standards in the use of VHF radio by recreational boaters.

Tripodi said a marine radio was compulsory in NSW for all vessels headed two nautical miles or more offshore.

"These radios provide a vital communications link to weather updates, navigation alerts and to search and rescue authorities in the event of an emergency," said Tripodi.

"A marine radio also allows a boat’s crew to take advantage of the established vessel tracking system, which helps to keep an eye on craft operating offshore," he said.

Marine radios are available in three types: 27MHz, VHF, and HF.

"It is generally recognised the VHF models have a superior call quality and signal strength, and are the preferred type for our typical recreational boats to carry offshore," Tripodi said.

"However, as these radios operate on ‘open’ channels, broadcasting to all who are listening, there is growing concern about how the marine radio sets are operated.

"Poor technique in the use of marine radio can cause confusion and clutter on open channels that may interfere or hamper priority calls when lives may be at risk.

"There is also a concern VHF radios are being used without an operator’s certificate of proficiency which is a requirement for all VHF radio users," Tripodi said.

The ACMA discussion paper outlines a range of ideas aimed at achieving more effective and efficient use of VHF radio and asks for comments on issues including mandatory Certificates of Proficiency.

The discussion paper, VHF Marine Radio Operator Qualification Arrangements – Non-Commercial (Recreational) Vessels, is available on the ACMA website at www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_311904

Submissions close December 18, 2009.

 


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