Australian Maritime Safety Authority


Protecting our environment

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is the national maritime agency whose responsibilities include protecting the marine environment from the impacts of shipping.

Marine Environment Protection Measures and Legislation

Australia has a vast coastline, some of which is particularly vulnerable to pollution. Being an island continent, Australia is economically dependent on its sea lanes and port operations – resulting in a continual risk of pollution to the marine environment.

A system of global regulation exists to ensure ships are subject to uniform pollution standards whether they are on the high seas, in territorial waters or in port.

AMSA’s role under the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Act 1990 includes protection of the marine environment from pollution from ships and other environmental damage caused by shipping.

National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies

Australia’s National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies (the National Plan) describes how governments and industry will co-operate to respond to shipping casualties and maritime spills.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) manages the National Plan, working with:

  • Commonwealth and State/Northern Territory (NT) government agencies
  • shipping, ports, offshore petroleum production and exploration, oil, salvage and chemical industries.

Marine Pollution Response

In accordance with the responsibilities set out in the National Plan, AMSA takes a leading role responding to pollution or potential pollution of the sea, or harm to the marine environment by oil or hazardous and noxious substances.

Pollution may originate from:

  • maritime casualties
  • vessels
  • oil and chemical terminals
  • offshore petroleum activities.

Response activities are supported by contingency plans, national equipment and dispersant stockpiles, response team training and exercises.

Maritime Casualty Response

AMSA manages the national arrangements for emergency vessel towage, supported by jurisdictions, to assist ships that are incapacitated and in danger of grounding, sinking or otherwise causing pollution.

Further information

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