Australia’s work to build capacity in developing states

Australia is proud to partner with Pacific and Indian Ocean maritime agencies to strengthen our regional capability to implement international maritime conventions. 

Australia is an active contributor to several ongoing programs including: 


Asia-Pacific Heads of Maritime Safety Agencies (APHoMSA

Australia provides the Secretariat to APHoMSA, which has 26 member countries lining the rim of the Pacific Ocean and nine observer organisations, including the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The forum meets annually to provide member states with an opportunity to meet at head of agency level to strengthen cooperation between maritime agencies and develop regional solutions to our shared challenges. The work of APHoMSA is progressed under four themes: 

  • Safety at Sea, including Seafarer Welfare.

  • Protecting the Marine Environment. 

  • Maritime Incident Response. 

  • Regional Cooperation. 

Learn more about APHoMSA’s work.


International Maritime Organization Integrated Technical Cooperation Program (ITCP) 

The ITCP assists countries to build their human and institutional capacities for uniform and effective compliance with the IMO’s regulatory framework.  

Australia is an ongoing supporter of the ITCP through donations and in-kind assistance, including the provision of technical experts, participation in attachment programs.  

More recently, Australia provided a substantial donation to the ITCP to:  

  • develop programs in the Indo-Pacific region.  
  • assist Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries in any region.  
  • support women in maritime and seafarer welfare around the world. 

Pacific Search and Rescue Steering Committee (PACSAR) 

Australia is a metropolitan member and current Chair of PACSAR.   

PACSAR comprises a group of search and rescue (SAR) agencies from five principal nations—Australia, Fiji, France, New Zealand, and the United States of America—that hold responsibility for significant SAR regions within the Pacific region.  

We remain committed to working with other partners and Pacific Island countries and territories to build regional SAR response capability. 


Pacific Islands Regional Marine Spill Contingency Plan (PACPLAN) 

Australia is the primary responder to six Pacific Island countries under PACPLAN including Tuvalu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati.   

PACPLAN provides a framework for cooperative regional responses to major marine spills in the Pacific Islands region and sets out how Pacific Island countries can request assistance from Australia, New Zealand, France or the United States of America.  


Ongoing technical assistance to the broader Indo-Pacific region. 

Australia is proud to partner with several regional organisations including:  

  • Secretariat of the Pacific Community 

  • Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme  

  • Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)  

  • Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)  

  • Indian Ocean and Tokyo Memoranda of Understanding on Port State Control.  

We also support the development of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea’s maritime transport sector through strong bilateral programs. These programs continue to deliver strong improvements covering development of domestic maritime legislation and implementation of improved ship inspection, marine environment protection and SAR capabilities.  

More recently, Australia supported the Government of Indonesia to establish a solid bulk cargoes testing and training facility and ship safety inspection centre of excellence.



Australia is also delighted to support the World Maritime University. The University, as a global centre of excellence recognised by the IMO and United Nations General Assembly, plays a significant role in maritime and ocean education, research, capacity-building and economic development, while promoting the roles of women in the maritime and ocean sectors. 

Australia is a strong advocate for the maritime interests of the region and the opportunity to enhance the technical, professional and leadership skills of maritime specialists in the region.  

From 2018-2021 Australia supported ten scholarships for students from the Pacific region between to undertake the Masters of Science in Maritime Affairs program, with a further ten scholarships now on offer to applicants from the broader Indo-Pacific region. 


Increasing IMO presence in the Pacific region 

Australia is pleased to support Pacific Islands member states, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Pacific Community to establish an IMO Regional Presence Office for the Pacific.  

The establishment of a regional presence office for the Pacific will improve the IMO’s understanding of the special needs of Pacific Islands and enhance IMO’s capacity to deliver assistance to the region. 

torres strait
Building capacity at home

Australia has a strong interest in ensuring all ships that visit our ports and transit our waters are seaworthy, have competent crews and can safely navigate through our sensitive marine areas.

We actively influence international ship safety, search and rescue protocols and marine environment standards while encouraging effective implementation to complete our own compliance regime applied to ships arriving in Australian ports.

Within Australia we are building capacity in the maritime industry by supporting skills-based initiatives for maritime workers and promote greater participation and diversity across industries.