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Annual Regulatory Program 2019 – 20

Our regulatory program is prepared annually and contains details of planned and completed changes to our regulatory instruments.

Publishing a regulatory program makes it easier for business and the community to take part in the development of our regulatory instruments, such as marine orders and the National Standard for Commercial Vessels.

The regulatory program contains information on:

  • legislative or other action planned to be progressed during the current financial year that could lead to changes in business regulation; 
  • a five-year outlook of future action, including for specific industry issues, international developments, priorities for standards and legislative expiry; and 
  • changes to business regulation that occurred during the previous financial year.

We publish an annual regulatory program early in each financial year. While there may be some regulatory activities that we are unable to forecast, these activities will involve consultation with affected parties and will be recorded in future regulatory programs.

Please direct any queries about our regulatory program to 

Regulatory program—marine orders
ProjectDescription of ActionConsultationDate of effect
Marine Order Project (Alcohol and Drugs)Review the need to regulate the kind of test to determine the level of blood alcohol and the presence of drugs for seafarers and pilots under the Navigation Act 2012, Chapter 2, Part 6.  July-September 20202022
Marine Order 11 (Living and working conditions on vessels) 2015Full review. Amendments will give effect to the 2018 amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention. These amendments require that a Seafarer Employment Agreement shall continue to have effect while a seafarer is held captive on or off the ship as a result of acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships.September-December 20201 January 2021
Marine Order 21 (Safety and emergency arrangements) 2016Amendment to address requirements in International Maritime Organization (IMO) Resolution MSC.421(98) for damage control drills on passenger vessels.July-September 20191 January 2020
Marine Order 27 (Safety of Navigation & Radio Equipment) 2016Full review. Amendment to implement IMO Resolution MSC.436(99) by adopting the term "recognised mobile satellite service”. Update references in the latest IMO Resolutions to guidance materials, including MSC.434(98) in Schedule 2 (enters into force 1 January 2021).July-September 20191 January 2020
Marine Order 31 (Vessel surveys and certification) 2015Full review. Amendment to clarify and incorporate the existing survey and certification requirements for government vessels (currently in Marine Order 62). Proposed change will cover all vessels including special provision for vessels less than 7.5 metres in length. Repeal Marine Order 62.July-September 20191 October 2019
Marine Order 43 (Cargo & cargo handling—livestock) 2018Post-implementation review of policy changes that came into effect on 1 July 2018. The changes include provisions giving effect to the Government’s response to the recommendations of the McCarthy Review in relation to accelerating the phase-out of transitional arrangements in place for older vessels.Ongoing10 July 2020
Marine Order 47 (Mobile offshore drilling units) 2012Full review. Reissue the Order under the Navigation Act 2012 and modernise the drafting style. Amalgamate with Marine Order 60.July-September 20191 October 2019
Marine Order 51 (Fishing Vessels) 1989Full review. Relocate stability section to Marine Order 12 and qualifications provisions to Marine Order 71 with other qualifications requirements. Repeal Marine Order 51.January-March 20212022
Marine Order 60 (Floating offshore facilities) 2001Repeal this Order following the review of Marine Order 47.July-September 20191 October 2019
Marine Order 62 (Government vessels) 2003Repeal this Order following the review of Marine Order 31.July-September 20191 October 2019
Marine Order 63 (Vessel reporting systems) 2015Implement IMO Resolution MSC.450(99) by adopting the term "recognised mobile satellite service”. Amendments to the Australian ship reporting system ‘REEFREP’ reporting area.July-September 20191 January 2020
Marine Order 64 (Vessel Traffic Services) 2013Full review. Incorporate applicable results of the IMO review of Resolution A.857(20) - Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services.July-September 20202021
Marine Order 71 (Masters and deck officers) 2014Full review. Amendment to address issues with the transitional arrangements for holders of existing certificates from the 2014 review.September-December 20201 January 2021
Marine Order 97 (Marine pollution prevention—air pollution) 2013Amendment to give effect to the use of approved Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems as equivalent to using 0.5% m/m sulphur fuel outside Emission Control Areas. Changes are subject to amendment of the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983.October-December 20191 January 2020
Marine Order 97 (Marine pollution prevention—air pollution) 2013Amendment to implement IMO Resolutions MEPC.176(58), MEPC.280(70) and MEPC.305(73) banning the use, and carriage for use, of fuel oil with sulphur content >0.5% m/m.July-September 20191 March 2020
Marine Order 98 (Marine Pollution—Anti-fouling Systems) 2013Full review. Amendment to implement future amendments to MARPOL Annex VI.July-September 20202021
Marine Order 503 (Certificates of survey—national law) 2018Amendment to provide for initial and periodic surveys for vessels greater than 35 metres in length to be undertaken by accredited marine surveyors from 1 July 2020.January-March 20201 July 2020
Marine Order 505 (Certificates of competency—national law) 2013 / NSCV Part D (Crew competencies)Full review. Amendment to simplify the qualifications framework. The National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) Part D will be incorporated into Marine Order 505.July-September 20191 January 2020
Regulatory program—National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV)
ProjectDescription of ActionConsultationDate of effect
NSCV Survey Length (NSCV Parts C3, C5A and C5B)Amendment to increase the length limit for initial National System survey from vessels <35 metres to <45 metres in length. Vessels <65 metres in length will be permitted to move into National System survey, provided that they have undergone an initial survey (and certification) by a classification society.January-March 20201 July 2020
NSCV Part C1 (Arrangement, accommodation and personal safety)Full review. Amendment to address vessel safety and other technical issues raised by industry.March-July 20201 October 2019
NSCV Part C2 (Watertight and weathertight integrity)A new standard to specify requirements for watertight and weathertight integrity (removing existing references to the Uniform Shipping Laws Code).January-March 20201 July 2020
NSCV Part C5B (Design and Construction—Engineering—electrical)Full review. Amendment to incorporate AS/NZS 3004.2:2014 – Electrical Installations – Marinas and Recreational Boats. This will align the electrical requirements of the NSCV with current state and territory requirements.Concluded 28 February 20191 January 2020
NSCV Part C7A (Safety equipment)Amendment to safety equipment requirements on small vessels, flotation, ferries in chains, and various technical issues.April-June 20201 July 2020
NSCV Part C7B (Communications equipment)Full review. Amendment to reflect changes in technology and systems, as well as issues flagged for inclusion or consideration.October-December 20191 March 2020
Regulatory program—five-year regulatory outlook 

This five-year outlook of future action covers specific industry issues, international developments, priorities for standards, and legislative expiry (‘sunsetting’) dates.

Autonomous vessels

AMSA has observed increasing interest in the use of autonomous technologies in Australia’s maritime industry. AMSA expects that the use of such systems, infrastructure and technologies will continue to increase in Australia.

In the next five years, AMSA will develop a framework for regulating autonomous vessels and new technologies, including clarification of the process and requirements for obtaining certification or approval for these. This will include:

  • updating relevant standards to be goal based, to allow for the flexibility needed to accommodate new technology, or developing a new set of standards for new vessel types (such as autonomous vessels);
  • placing a bigger emphasis on safety assurance; and
  • referring appropriate vessels to Recognised Organisations for survey.

AMSA will proactively consult and collaborate with industry in order to ensure that any policy and regulatory changes are appropriate, and will achieve the required outcomes now and into the future.

AMSA will continue to influence and learn from the work of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in developing a position on the regulation of Marine Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS). Our work at the IMO will also better inform the way we regulate vessels under our domestic regulatory framework, and ensure consistency with our international treaty obligations.

Regulation of non-SOLAS vessels in Polar regionsThe IMO is considering proposals initiated by New Zealand for appropriate means of regulating the safety and operations of non-SOLAS vessels in polar regions. This would include, for example, fishing vessels greater than 24 metres in length, pleasure yachts over 300 tonnes and cargo vessels of 300-500 tonnes. Discussions to date have led to an agreement that only Chapter 9 (Safety of Navigation) of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters 2014 (Polar Code) be applied to non-SOLAS vessels. How this is to be applied is still being discussed but indications are that the preference is for the amendment of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS) rather than modifying or expending the Polar Code itself. Australia has been supportive of the proposals during discussions.
Safe carriage of industrial personnelThe IMO has proposed a new SOLAS chapter and a new Code of Practice to address the safe carriage of non-marine personnel (‘industrial personnel’) on board vessels. Australia has been supportive during the discussions, with proposals for text to amend SOLAS and to develop the new Code well underway.
National Law amendments

Over the next five years we will focus on the following changes within the National Law regulatory framework:

  • progressing changes to the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 (National Law Act) and the National Law Regulation that provides AMSA with greater flexibility to deal with new and emerging technologies, align its regulatory approach with risk, and simplify the regulatory framework for the National System;
  • embedding changes in the National Law that better allow for an ‘outcomes-based’ regulatory approach (including exploring the potential for manuals, etc.);
  • reducing duplication between the National Law, and ensuring better alignment with, other regulatory frameworks (workplace health and safety, fisheries management, etc.);
  • put in place a plan to address issues associated with scope of vessel coverage so that vessels are covered by the appropriate regulatory framework; and
  • give specific consideration to pressing policy issues (grandfathering, enforcement mechanisms, surveyor accreditation).
Priorities for the National standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV)AMSA will prioritise the review of those standards identified through industry consultation as being out of date, difficult to interpret or apply, or that are otherwise not fit for purpose.
International regulations under development

Amendments arising from the IMO will be progressively due for implementation over the next five years as follows:

Maritime Safety Committee amendments:

  • Introduction of the competitive provision of Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) services;
  • GMDSS modernisation plan targeted for adoption in 2022;
  • Regulations and guidance to standardise the displays and functions on Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), together with revised performance standards for integrated navigation systems; and
  • Review of IMO resolution relating to Vessel Traffic Services (VTS).

Marine Environment Protection Committee amendments:

  • Fuel oil sulphur cap (0.5% m/m) for all ships by 1 January 2020;
  • Greenhouse gas reduction strategy; and
  • Strategy to reduce marine plastic pollution from land-based sources.

Maritime Labour Convention:

  • Protection of seafarers’ wages when held captive as a result of piracy or armed robbery against ships.
Regulations and standards due to expire

In the next five years the following marine orders will require a full review due their reaching their legislative expiry (‘sunsetting’) date in 2023/2024:

  • Marine Order 4 (Transitional Modifications)
  • Marine Order 15 (Construction – fire protection, fire detection and fire extinction)
  • Marine Order 18 (Measures to enhance maritime safety)
  • Marine Order 19 (Tonnage measurement)
  • Marine Order 35 (Additional safety measures for bulk carriers)
  • Marine Order 50 (Special purpose vessels)
  • Marine Order 54 (Coastal pilotage)
  • Marine Order 64 (Vessel traffic services)
  • Marine Order 70 (Seafarer certification)
  • Marine Order 71 (Masters and deck officers)
  • Marine Order 72 (Engineer officers)
  • Marine Order 73 (Ratings)
  • Marine Order 97 (Marine pollution prevention – air pollution)
  • Marine Order 98 (Marine pollution – anti-fouling systems)
  • Marine Order 501 (Administration)

Each part of the National Standards for Commercial Vessels will be reviewed once every 10 years.

Regulatory program—completed program 2018-19

This program of regulatory activities was completed during the 2018-2019 financial year.

Marine Orders

ProjectDescription of actionDate of effect
Marine Order 11 (Living and working conditions on vessels) 2015Amendment to give effect to a change to the Maritime Labour Convention that came into effect internationally on 8 January 2019. The change extends the duration period of an expiring maritime labour certificate when a new replacement certificate cannot be issued and placed on board before expiry. Other amendments for clarification and to eliminate unintended errors.8 January 2019
Marine Order 44 (Safe containers) 2019Full review. Amendment to implement IMO resolution MSC.355(92) for changes to the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC) with an enter into force date of 1 July 2014. Reissued the Order under the Navigation Act 2012 and modernised the drafting style. Replaced schedule 24 of Marine Order 4.1 July 2019
Marine Order 503 (Certificates of survey - national law) 2018Amendments to limit the kind of Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) that can be carried on Class 1, 2 and 3 vessels to an EPIRB that floats free and automatically activates. Consequential changes were also made to Marine Order 503 and NSCV Part C7B to ensure that 'existing vessels' and non-survey vessels affected by the changes are also required to carry a float-free EPIRB by 1 January 2021.1 January 2019

National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV)

ProjectDescription of actionDate of effect
NSCV Part B (General requirements) and other NSCV Parts

Amendment to the definition of ‘smooth waters’ and ‘partially smooth waters’ to recognise waters designated by laws in force in a state or territory, to support the implementation of a new Ordinance under the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955 to designate the waters in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands lagoon as ‘partially smooth waters’ (Category D).

Minor consequential amendments were also made to the NSCV Parts C1, C4, C6A, C6C, C7A, C7B, C7C, C7D, D, F1C, F2 and G to remove reference to repealed NSCV Part E and replace with Marine Order 504 2018,  and update reference to the issue year for Marine Order 503 to 2018.

24 July 2018
NSCV Part C7B (Design and Construction - Equipment - Communications Equipment)

Amendments to limit the kind of EPIRB that can be carried on Class 1, 2 and 3 vessels to an EPIRB that floats free and automatically activates. 

Consequential changes were also made to Marine Order 503 to ensure that 'existing vessels' and non-survey vessels affected by the changes are also required to carry a float-free EPIRB by 1 January 2021.

1 January 2019
Last updated: 13 July 2022