As a signatory to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS) Australia has undertaken to establish vessel traffic services (VTS) where the volume of traffic or the degree of risk justifies such services.
SOLAS is implemented in Australia by the Navigation Act 2012, which establishes AMSA as the competent authority for VTS in Australia and allows regulations to be made in relation to VTS. Marine Order 64 sets out the arrangements for us to regulate for VTS authorities, including authorisation, certification and auditing, as well as the accreditation of VTS training organisations.
In 2015-16 ten new vessel traffic services were authorised: Dampier, Brisbane, Gladstone, Hay Point, Mackay, Abbot Point, Townsville, Cairns, Weipa and the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait (REEFVTS).
To meet Australia’s international obligations for VTS, and ensure a national approach to VTS, we released two key policy documents:
Both policy documents were developed through a series of workshops conducted in association with the Australian VTS Working Group ― a consultative group to facilitate communication and information sharing between VTS authorities and key stakeholders.
Our under keel clearance management (UKCM) system has become a key contributor to the safe navigation of commercial shipping through Torres Strait.
We are investigating a number of potential recommendations to ensure the ongoing refinement of the UKCM system and its continued acceptance as an effective tool by licenced coastal pilots, ships’ masters and owners, including:
If implemented, these recommendations will enhance the positioning and, importantly, help to future-proof the use of the UKCM system. They will also contribute to further improving the safety of commercial navigation in Torres Strait.
We continue to provide an effective UKCM-based safety management service, through thorough data assessment, close cooperation with supporting agencies and effective stakeholder liaison, engagement, training and management. This service is ably supported by a renewed maintenance contract valid until July 2019.