Exemption 15—Marine Safety (Scientific research and educational activities)

This exemption is for people who want to work on a vessel involved in scientific research or educational activities without the required certificate of competency.

You do not need to apply to use this exemption unless you wish to use it outside the Great Barrier Reef Region, Torres Strait Zone, smooth waters or partially smooth waters.  

You will need to keep all the supporting documents on board and ready to be presented to authorities if required.

What this exemption will allow you to do

Exemption 15 allows you to perform duties on a domestic commercial vessel up to 7.5m long used for scientific or educational activities without a certificate of competency, provided: 

  • these activities are conducted on behalf of a scientific research or educational organisation
  • the vessel carries only employees of the vessel’s owner and  special personnel—as defined in National Standard for Commercial Vessels Part B.

You are eligible for Exemption 15 if the master of the vessel:

  • is at least 16 years old 
  • holds a license required to operate recreationally in the waters where the specified operation is being carried out 
  • complies with the conditions of the license that they hold.

You may conduct these specified scientific research or educational activities only in: 

  • the Great Barrier Reef Region 
  • the Torres Strait zone 
  • smooth or partially smooth waters
  • other waters approved by us for the specified operation. 

To apply to operate in ‘other waters’ for the purposes of Exemption 15, please complete and submit AMSA form 758 to DCVapplications@amsa.gov.au with the following information:

  • vessel name and unique identifier
  • details of the proposed operation and geographical area(s)
  • details of how you will mitigate the risks of operating in the proposed area

AMSA policy is that an approval would not be issued if the proposed ‘other waters’ have higher environmental risks than those permitted by the exemption.

Legislation and incorporated material

Related information 



Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Last updated: 27 February 2023