Australian Maritime Safety Authority

National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies

These pages outline the National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies [pdfPDF: 3.12Mb] and its management.

The National Plan provides a single, national, comprehensive and integrated response arrangement to minimise the impacts of marine pollution from vessel casualties and spills from offshore petroleum facilities, as well as other environmental impacts arising from a maritime environmental emergency, upon the Australian community, environment, cultural and heritage resources, economy and infrastructure.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) manages the National Plan, working with Commonwealth, State, and Northern Territory governments, along with the shipping, ports, oil, salvage, exploration and chemical industries, and emergency services nationwide, to maximise Australia's marine pollution response capability.
It sets out national arrangements, policies and principles for the management of maritime environmental emergencies. It is not itself a plan, but provides policy and guidance on the following key elements to ensure national consistency:

To do so it builds on eight important principles common to all forms of emergency response, to:

  • Protecting the community, environment and maritime industries
  • Giving effect to relevant international conventions
  • Integrating with the Australian Emergency Management Arrangements
  • Providing a comprehensive management arrangement
  • Providing a single integrated response arrangement
  • Implementing a risk management approach
  • Implementing the polluter pays principles
  • Providing for stakeholder engagement

The scope of the National Plan is to deal with potential and actual pollution of the sea or harm to the marine environment by oil or hazardous and noxious substance, originating from:

  • maritime casualties requiring salvage and intervention, emergency towage and requests for a place of refuge
  • oil pollution or hazardous and noxious substance pollution incidents from vessels, oil and chemical terminals, and from offshore petroleum activities
  • marine pollution from unknown sources
  • marine pollution from floating or sunken containers of hazardous materials
  • debris originating from a maritime casualty, or
  • physical damage caused by vessels.

It does not deal with ballast water, marine pests, or marine pollutants other than oil and hazardous and noxious substances, general marine debris and rubbish. These are managed under other regimes and agreements.
The National Plan applies throughout Australian Exclusive Economic Zone, and covers all coastal waters, offshore islands and territories. It also applies on the high seas where an incident has the potential to impact upon Australian interests.

The objectives of the National Plan are to have:

  • a detailed national, state, local and industry plans and communications arrangements for responding to an oil or chemical pollution incident
  • an appropriate level of emergency towage capability around the Australian coastline
  • a single national decision maker to coordinate a response to a maritime casualty
  • an adequate level of pre-positioned spill combating equipment, commensurate with the risk involved
  • a comprehensive competency-based national training programme, complemented by exercises

Relevant links:

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