Topics explained – Aquaculture – Marine distress flares


Marine distress flares (parachute flares, red hand flares or orange smoke flares) are classified as explosives.

All flares carry an expiry date and must be replaced on or prior to that date. Expired flares must not be used for training purposes, public demonstrations or as fireworks, or form part of a fireworks display.

Do not dispose of them in rubbish bins or landfills.

Please contact your local police station for advice on the nearest police station licenced to accept expired flares.

Flares should be placed in a heavy plastics bag or spark proof container.

Disposal of expired marine flares

The Explosive Regulations 2011 regulation15.07B require the owner of expired marine flares to deliver it to a police station for disposal. This is a public safety provision for individual boat owners to safely surrender their expired marine flares.

Police Stations are not equipped to accept large quantities of expired flares that are generated through commercial activities.

Where expired marine flares are gathered during business activities such as refitting lifeboats or servicing vessels, it is the responsibility of the business to ensure that:

  1. they have licensed premises or magazines for storing all flares, including those which are expired; and
  2. the total quantity of explosives being stored, including all in-date and expired marine flares, do not exceed the quantity permitted by their licence; and
  3. they have a transport and disposal plan for the expired marine flares. This may involve contracting these activities to a third party who holds the required licences and is competent.