Each year, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) receives marine incident notifications involving domestic commercial vessels (DCVs). Marine incident reporting is an important source of information that informs regulation and approaches to managing safety. AMSA continues to improve the collection, coding and analyses of marine incident data to better support a data driven approach. AMSA’s data driven approach informs safety education and compliance activities which are laid out in the annual National Compliance Plan. 

This report uses marine incident information reported over the last two years (January 2019 to December 2020) with a particular focus on 2020 data. Detailed analysis provides an insight into current and possible future maritime safety trends and takes a detailed look at the consequences and resulting safety factors that contributed to these incidents. As indicated this information is used together with other safety data (such as inspection data) to support the identification of focus areas of concern to allow for more effective targeting of our compliance activities. The outcome of the targeted activities for 2021-2022 financial year are laid out in the National Compliance Plan. 

Marine incident and safety concern reporting

Marine incidents are defined by relevant Australian laws and include different types of incidents. Generally, a marine incident includes any occurrence that has affected, or is likely to affect, the safety of persons or vessels.

Marine incidents that are required to be reported to AMSA are detailed in the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 20121. A list of these is included on the AMSA website. Depending on the seriousness of the incident, these are categorised as either:

  1. immediately reportable matters (through an incident alert) and include deaths, serious injuries, loss of vessel, loss of person from a vessel or significant damage to a vessel. The incident alert informs AMSA that a very serious incident has occurred. An incident alert may not include all the information required to close the incident.
  2. other marine incidents through an incident report. The incident report is a more detailed, follow-up report. Although this includes all other incidents, all incident alerts must be followed up by an incident report.

Visit the AMSA website to find out more.

The type of information provided in marine incident reports by the owner, operator and master of the vessel allows AMSA to establish whether they understand their safety obligations and safety factors that contributed to the incident and have implemented measures to learn from the incident and to prevent recurrence. Incident reporting and subsequent analysis should also form part of the vessel’s safety management system.

AMSA also processes reports relating to marine safety concerns, similar to marine incidents. Anyone can report a safety concern, such as observing incidents that may endanger, or if not corrected could endanger, the safety of a vessel or persons on board. 

Marine incident statistics are updated and published annually by AMSA.

In 2020, AMSA received a total of 121 reports of marine safety concerns related to domestic commercial operations. The most common concerns were related to substandard and non-compliant vessel conditions which were often reported by crew or members of the public.


Sections 88 and 89 of schedule 1 of the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012(National Law).