Our regulatory approach 2014

This document has been superseded by the 2018 Statement of regulatory approach.

Read the 2018 Statement of regulatory approach.

We consider a range of factors when developing our regulatory approach for domestic commercial vessels.

Principles include safety, flexibility, collaboration, performance, and responsibility.

Safety is primary
  • Marine safety risks must be reduced as much as possible. Regulation must be scaled to reflect risk.
Regulation must be flexible
  • We regulate approximately 27,000 domestic commercial vessels and 66,000 masters and crew across the country. The fleet is highly varied, from small boats on aqua culture leases to ferries carrying millions of passengers per year.
  • The age, operation and areas in which the fleet varies significantly, as do their risk management processes.
  • Our regulatory approach must be flexible enough to manage the risks of these different vessels, operations and operators, while supporting both business and environmental sustainability.
Collaboration with industry
  • We develop and maintain a collaborative relationship with industry.
  • We share an obligation with you to make the domestic commercial vessel safer.
  • Everyone whose actions impact on safety are required to follow the general safety duties under the National Law, including operators, masters, builders, crew and passengers.
  • By collaborating with you, we will ensure we stay in touch with the realities of operating a domestic commercial vessel and be able to offer practical safety solutions, support and advice.
  • We will share information, including safety data which allows for true risk-based oversight.
Based on performance
  • Our regulatory scheme is performance-based, not prescriptive.
  • Prescriptive requirements can discourage operators from considering how safety is best managed and create a "meet the minimum requirements' attitude.
  • Prescriptive requirements can stifle innovation by being difficult to keep pace with the latest safety developments and technology.
  • Performance based regulation provides you with the opportunity to take a more active role in delivering safety outcomes and encourages operators to adopt best practice.
  • A performance based approach is more likely to bring about mutually beneficial interactions between you and us.
The operator is responsible
  • The operator has the primary responsibility for ensuring the vessel is safe and operates safely.
  • The person with overall general control and management of the vessel is in the best position to identify and control the risks of their operation.
  • They are responsible for making sure those risks are being managed.
  • We will support risk management through effective performance-based regulation.
  • We will make information accessible to support operators to maintain safe vessels and operations.
  • We will verify the operator is managing risks where appropriate.
Trust and verify
  • We will take a 'trust and verify' approach to maintaining safety.
  • If you have compliant vessels, a good safety record and a safety management system, we will focus on periodically verifying compliance with safety outcomes through risk-based surveillance and system-based audits.
  • We will direct our efforts towards industry sectors and operators that do not have a good record of compliance, including new vessels, operators and crew and where the risks and/or consequences of an incident are high.
  • Breaches will be dealt with in accordance with our compliance and enforcement policy.
  • Implementation of a 'trust and verify' approach will take time.
  • A transitional process will be applied to ensure operators take responsibility for safety outcomes through the implementation of an effective safety management system.
Leverage third-party expertise
  • We will make use of third-party expertise to bolster its regulatory safety activities.
  • There wil be a greater role for nationally accredited private surveyors.
  • These arrangements will increase the availability of resources that enable operators to meet their obligations.
Simplicity is our goal
  • We will strive to make it simple for you to maintain safety.
  • We will improve safety by making it easier for operators, surveyors and marine safety officers and inspectors to establish and maintain safe vessels and safe operating practices by streamlining the structure of our regulations and producing high-quality guidance material and training programs.
  • We will work together with other safety agencies to reduce the potential for duplication of safety rules and the application of those rules.
We will reduce duplication
  • We will work together with other safety agencies to reduce duplication of safety rules and their application.
  • Domestic commercial vessels are subject to different laws including maritime safety, occupation health and safety, local waterways, environmental and fisheries management.
  • Where there is overlap we will work with other agencies to reduce or remove the duplication.
Last updated: 21 May 2021