Australia’s maritime identity

Australia is an influential maritime leader

We contribute towards safety, security and environmental protection across the global shipping industry.

Australia has been an elected member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council for more than 50 years, contributing expertise that ensures the ongoing safety and security of the global maritime trade.  

We support an IMO that strives for the highest practicable standards, with equitable measures for maritime states, shipping companies and individuals. 

With 99% of commodities entering and leaving Australia by sea, we are committed to ensuring a sustainable, equitable and ethical global maritime industry. We work to implement a domestic regulatory regime in Australia that is risk-based, relevant and practical for operators. 

Australia is an island nation with 60,000 kilometres of coastline

  • Our coastline links the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans, and includes the Australian Antarctic territories.
  • We have over 8,000 islands and the third largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
  • Australia exports more than 1.5 billion tonnes per year.
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Australia is ambitious on environmental protection
  • Australia has joined the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution by 2040 and is committed to actions that will achieve this ambition, including global action to address shipping’s contribution.  
  • Australia supports decarbonisation of international shipping by 2050. This aligns with our national emissions reduction targets.  
  • Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was designated the IMO’s first Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) in 1990. It was extended in 2005 to include the Torres Strait, and again in 2015 to include parts of the Coral Sea. 
  • Australia protects the marine environment through a strong domestic regime and full compliance with international conventions. 
  • We have comprehensive national arrangements to manage maritime environmental emergencies. 
  • Australia is an active member of Pacific Islands Marine Spill Contingency Plan (PACPLAN). We provide assistance to Pacific Island states to prepare for marine pollution response operations. 

Australia’s maritime identity

  • Australia is one of the world’s largest bulk commodities exporters. Port Hedland is the world’s largest bulk export port and we have major ports in Brisbane, Newcastle, Fremantle, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
  • More than 85% of Australians live by the sea. Our unique marine environments, ranging from the Macquarie Island marine park in the Southern Ocean to the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and Ningaloo coast in the north, form part of our national identity.
  • Australia is one of the fastest growing cruise markets in the world. 1.35 million Australians took a cruise in 2018. 
  • Australia is home to some of the region’s most respected maritime training facilities, providing both seafarer education and undertaking cutting-edge maritime research. 
Australia’s maritime values
  • Australia is a committed maritime partner. We have mature maritime cooperation programs and we are the permanent Secretariat to the Asia-Pacific Heads of Maritime Safety Agencies (APHoMSA) forum.
  • Australia champions reform at IMO to ensure the Organization is innovative, inclusive, transparent and effective.
  • Australia works hard to develop fair and effective shipping standards so that all nations can benefit from safe, efficient ships and a clean environment.
  • Australia invests in alternative fuels for sustainable development and a cleaner future.
  • Australia consults widely to ensure that Council decisions reflect the diverse priorities and needs of IMO members.
  • Australia champions seafarer welfare. We have a world class Search and Rescue capability and a risk-based port State control program to ensure the ships visiting our ports are safe. Australia enforces internationally agreed labour conditions on all ships operating in Australian waters.
  • Australia believes in sharing the benefits of a high quality global maritime industry. We support the IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Program as a donor and by contributing expertise.
Australia is a major maritime trading nation
  • Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of iron ore, bauxite and natural gas. We are also major agricultural exporters, including of grain, beef, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, nuts and wine.
  • Australia promotes high cargo safety standards to ensure the sustainability of bulk commodity trade, for instance our work on cargo liquefaction, dynamic separation and safe carriage of bulk liquid hydrogen.
Ship safety and navigation
  • Australia has a world-class, risk-based port State control inspection regime.
  • We conduct nearly 3,000 port State control inspections each year.
  • We have worked closely with other shipping nations to protect the well-being of seafarers throughout COVID-19.
  • Australia’s vessel traffic service in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait has successfully stopped groundings in the area since 2004.
  • We also provide a comprehensive network of 500 visual and electronic aids to navigation, to allow ships to navigate safely around Australia’s coastline and to and from our ports.
Australia has one of the largest shipping tasks in the world
  • Australian ports export over 1.5 billion tonnes of cargo annually.
  • Australia is the world’s largest commodities exporter.
  • We are the world’s main exporter of iron ore and unwrought lead, and the second largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.
  • We are also home to the largest bulk export port in the world.

Australia advocates for gender equality 

  • Australia advocates for gender equality across the maritime industry, supporting our neighbours to achieve sustainable change and gender equality.  
  • We fund scholarships for regional women to attend the World Maritime University, providing an opportunity for female maritime specialists to enhance their technical, professional and leadership skills.  
  • We run a domestic scholarship program to encourage women to enter the maritime industry in Australia.