For professional mariners the official International Maritime Organization's (IMO) regime for safety at sea is called the Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS). While vessels less than 300 gross tons are not subject to GMDSS requirements, recreational voyagers do benefit from GMDSS via the distress signaling system Cospas-Sarsat, which is the satellite setup that receives EPIRB distress messages. As of right now, the only satellite communications system that is officially recognized as part of GMDSS is Inmarsat. Now, however, the IMO's subcommittee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue has agreed to evaluate the Iridium satellite system for compliance with GMDSS requirements.
Iridium still has more hurdles to clear for it to achieve the full IMO GMDSS endorsement, but the end result might be a wider range of safety-related communications gear available to recreational voyagers in the future.