Consultation on the Safe Disposal of Marine Flares


Published Feb 2, 2021 12:36 AM by The Maritime Executive

A proposal to develop long-term future arrangements for the safe disposal of time expired marine pyrotechnics (flares) from the pleasure boat sector is going out to industry, industry regulators and owners for consultation. 

The proposal being put forward by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency is for an industry-led, self-regulated disposal service that complies with existing legislation and offers an opportunity for small regional businesses to tailor a disposal service that meets local needs. 

The consultation begins this week lasting six weeks and is designed to help understand how and where the Government can support industry in overcoming obstacles to providing a disposal service. It will look at what scheme or schemes exist already, or which could be developed to ensure that boat-owners have access to a trustworthy and reliable range of options allowing them to dispose of their flares safely.   

Director of HM Coastguard Claire Hughes said: “Marine pyrotechnics have traditionally been a vital means of raising the alarm for mariners when they have run into difficulty or have an emergency at sea. 

“These devices must be safely and responsibly disposed of when expired or damaged. Irresponsible disposal or abandonment of flares is illegal and such action could lead to damage to the marine environment, people, equipment or property.” 

The current service was put in place as an interim measure to allow for industry to develop a long-term solution and has been provided for free to pleasure boat owners by the MCA since 2010. Expired flares can be taken to 17 coastguard stations around the UK plus the RNLI station in Poole, Dorset. 

The contract held by the MCA with an ordnance disposal company is now due to expire and this consultation allows for a discussion around how to create a scheme which is more efficient and convenient for pleasure vessel owners allowing them to meet their legal obligations more easily and conveniently. 

Claire added: “Many vessel owners have already told us that they would like to see a scheme that allows for flares to be disposed of closer to home to reduce travel.”

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