Dory vessel safety

Dory operations are a type of tender operation that involve a fleet of small boats with only one or two people on board, fishing in a designated zone and reporting to a parent vessel overseeing their activities. Operators and crew of these types of operations face unique safety challenges and risk.
Image of domestic commercial vessel dory/tender operations

Dory vessel safety campaign

Installing a radio and registering beacons on-board all dories, ensuring crew wear life jackets, and equipping the vessel with the right safety gear is a good place to start in making sure your crew are safe.

You’ll also see us out and about conducting targeted education and compliance activities with Queensland Police Service and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol as part of our push to reduce dory incidents and prevent deaths at sea.

Know when to use a beacon or other type of communications

Distress beacons help save lives every day, but there’s a quicker way for dories to call for help.

If a vessel breaks down, it’s faster to call someone nearby than to wait for a rescue service, so make sure you equip dory vessels with a marine radio, mobile or satellite phone.

If you own or operate a dory vessel, it’s your responsibility to ensure the safety of your crew at all times.

Dories without phones or radios not only puts lives at risk, it can lead to unnecessary search and rescue responses.

In a distress situation, use a phone or radio first to alert the parent vessel or marine rescue.

If neither are available, or there isn’t time, activate a beacon.

That way our search and rescue services are available for life-threatening emergencies.

Keeping crew safe at sea

Equipping crew with the right safety equipment is part of the national law and includes making sure your crew can call for help when they need it.

The best way for a dory to maintain contact with the parent vessel is with a phone or radio and within visual contact.

So if a dory vessel breaks down, runs out of fuel, or there’s an emergency, the crew can quickly call for help from someone close by.

In a genuine emergency, a radio or phone will also help rescuers communicate with the crew and find out the vessel’s position, nature of distress, number of people on board, and type of assistance needed.

How to use a beacon

Before setting out, ensure all beacons are registered and the details are up to date—online registration is easy and you can update your registration details anytime.

The way to activate a beacon depends on the make and model. Check the manufacturer’s instructions before you head out to sea.

EPIRBs should only be used when a vessel is in genuine distress, as it results in an immediate search and rescue operation. 

Make sure the beacon is stored in a safe, dry place so it can’t be set off accidentally.

If a beacon is activated accidentally, switch it off and call the AMSA Response Centre on 1800 641 792. There is no penalty for accidental activation.


  • Use a radio or phone to maintain contact between dory and parent vessel
  • Only deploy a beacon in a life-threatening situation

Register your beacon at

Last updated: 

Thursday 3 September 2020