AMSA Aboard

June 2016

IMO adopts new Traffic Separation Schemes off Western Australia’s coast

On 1 December 2016 two new Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS) will come into effect off the south-west coast of Western Australia.

Australia’s proposal to establish the schemes was approved by the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue Sub-Committee earlier this year and adopted by its Maritime Safety Committee in May.

A TSS is similar to a highway for cars. That is, it separates opposing streams of traffic by establishing traffic lanes and separation zones. The two schemes, off Cape Leeuwin and Chatham Island in the state’s south-west, aim to increase navigational safety by reducing the number of head-on situations and improve environmental protection by keeping ships away from the coast line.

Our proposal stemmed from shipping traffic data which showed that both of these issues were of concern (evidence of ships on reciprocal courses and navigating close to the coast line). With around 6500 unique voyages made through this area every two years (i.e. around nine ships per day), and shipping volumes increasing, the schemes will improve safety without affecting shipping movements. That is, there will be no increase in typical voyage distances for ships traversing the area.

In developing the proposal, we consulted with state and Commonwealth agencies, shipping interests and worked closely with the Australian Hydrographic Office.

The schemes will be depicted on paper and electronic charts of the region.

Australia's proposed Traffic Separation Schemes off south-west WA have now been adopted by the IMO

Australia's proposed Traffic Separation Schemes off south-west WA have now been adopted by the IMO

Container weight rules in effect from 1 July

Incorrectly declared weights can result in container collapse, personal injury and damage to equipment

From 1 July we will implement changes to regulations for container weight verifications in the shipping industry, requiring shippers to provide a verified gross mass (VGM) for containers. These changes reflect amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). To implement the new international requirements, we have amended Marine Order 42 (Cargo, stowage and securing).
Under the changes, the shipper is required to provide a signed VGM to the terminal and the master of a vessel or their representative, in advance of a container being loaded. Providing a VGM for a container allows the master of a vessel to plan ship loading, so that the ship is stable, hull strength and stack weights are not exceeded, and lashing arrangements are effective.

The need for accurate weight declarations is a critical safety issue as incorrectly declared weights can result in container collapse, personal injury and damage to equipment.

These amendments to SOLAS will improve safety in global shipping and we are pleased to be playing our part in ensuring a safe industry.

Prior to amending Marine Order 42, we consulted with industry to incorporate their feedback. It is important to note that Australian legislation has required shippers to provide an accurate gross mass on maritime shipping documents since 1994. For this reason, many shippers will already comply with requirements for verified gross mass.

Further information and relevant standards are available on our website.

National System update

How will we deliver services from 1 July 2017?

While introducing a single national system for the regulation of domestic commercial vessels (DCVs) will improve safety, we know that regulation alone cannot eliminate every risk.

Underpinning the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety (National System) is the recognition that it’s the owners, operators and crew of DCVs who are best placed to manage the risks faced. Our role is to provide support where needed.

With this in mind, our blueprint for the delivery of National System services from 1 July 2017 is built on the principles of education, collaboration, red tape reduction and putting the onus on individuals to understand the value in actively promoting safety — from complying with their regulatory responsibilities right through to fostering a culture of safety in their industry.

What will change from 1 July 2017?

Currently, even though we are responsible for regulating DCVs across Australia, the way you get your services — such as certificates and vessel IDs, undertaking surveys and the fees associated with these services — is not the same around the country. Those services are currently delivered by each state and territory, which sets its own procedures and fees for these services.

In November 2014, Commonwealth, state and territory transport and infrastructure ministers unanimously agreed that AMSA be positioned to take up service delivery by July 2017 under the ‘one system, one process and one decision maker’ principle.

From 1 July 2017, not only will the rules and standards for DCVs be consistent across Australia, but the way you receive services (and the fees for those services) will also be the same across Australia, regardless of where you operate.

The types of services and support we will provide under the National System are detailed in the Autumn edition of our Working Boats newsletter. Further information on transition arrangements is available on our website.

Our work in the community

Karumba life jacket program

In our February 2016 edition, we introduced our regional liaison officers. Each of these officers has a deep knowledge of the domestic commercial sector in their region and works closely with industry bodies, state services, organisations and individual seafarers to promote the integration of the National System in their region. A recent example of their work is detailed below.

In May Justin Williams from our Queensland team visited Karumba (in the Gulf of Carpentaria) to kick off a community and industry trial using personal flotation devices (PFD) and personal locator beacons (PLB) within the local fishing fleet.

This initiative is a result of recent safety management system and risk workshops and aims to further improve individual and industry safety. Working with remote operators is a vital part of our domestic commercial vessel safety work, as each region has unique challenges and risks. This trial focuses on testing equipment to its limits and will help us work with industry to develop a safety program tailored to local commercial operations.

Industry support is key to the success of the trial and we are grateful for the local support we have received, especially from The Gulf of Carpentaria Commercial Fishermans Association and The Fishermens Portal Inc. who are focused on improving safety for their members.

Twenty keen participants have signed up for the trial and will wear the jackets and carry PLBs and provide feedback on how both worked within their operations. We will be working closely with the local Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol Officers throughout the trial – they will be our eyes and ears on the water to validate the feedback we receive.

The trial ends in October 2016, after which time we will attend the Karumba Fisherman’s Association annual general meeting to discuss the trial and results.

Working Boats Autumn 2016 edition

Working Boats Autumn 2016 edition

The Autumn edition of Working Boats is available to view on our website.

In this edition:

  • How will AMSA deliver services from 1 July 2017?
  • M.V. Night Crossing
  • General safety duties
  • Lessons learnt: crew positioning
  • and much more!

AMSA and Tangaroa Blue working together for clean seas

Tangaroa Blue logo

We have joined forces with the Tangaroa Blue Foundation (Tangaroa Blue) to help prevent marine debris from ships.

Our responsibilities include protecting the marine environment from shipping-related impacts and we are committed to maintaining a safe and clean marine environment. Part of our role in ensuring clean seas is the administration of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships (MARPOL). MARPOL prevents marine pollution by managing the discharge of waste from ships.

Tangaroa Blue is an Australian registered charity that coordinates the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI). AMDI is a network of community groups and government agencies focused on reducing the amount of marine debris washing into our oceans. Its work includes beach clean-up activities, marine debris monitoring and administration of the Australian Marine Debris Database.

A memorandum of understanding signed by both organisations in May will promote cooperation and information sharing activities, which will support both parties in minimising marine debris. While the majority of marine debris comes from land-based sources, preventing waste discharge from ships is a key focus for us in environmental protection.

Our Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said the relationship will support the implementation and enforcement of the MARPOL Convention by keeping AMSA informed of marine debris that may wash up on our beaches.

“The information collected by Tangaroa Blue volunteers in beach clean-ups helps us to build a better understanding of pollution incidents at sea,” Mick said.

“This will support investigations of illegal discharge of waste from ships and contribute to community awareness of marine pollution prevention.”

Tangaroa Blue Managing Director Heidi Taylor said the agreement provides a platform for citizen scientists involved in the Australian Marine Debris Initiative to report on items of interest to AMSA that are found during beach clean-up events.

“Tangaroa Blue Foundation volunteers provide extra sets of eyes out on the ground around the country to assist in collecting and reporting information through to AMSA on marine environment pollution.”

Examples of marine debris

Examples of marine debris

What's new?

Corporate Plan 2016-20



Recent events


Marine notices

  • 2016/11 Bridge Resource Management (BRM) and Expected Actions of Bridge Teams in Australia Pilotage Waters
  • 2016/10 International delivery of domestic commercial vessels and near coastal vessels operating overseas
  • 2016/09 Vessel-helicopter operations

All marine notices are available to view on our website.


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