History of the National Plan

On 1 October 1973, the National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies (National Plan) came into operation.

Following the Oceanic Grandeur oil spill in 1970, the Australian Government recognised the need for a national set of arrangements to manage oil and pollution incidents. Reports vary of the total amount of oil spilled from this incident, but estimates suggest around 1,100 tonnes leaked into the Torres Strait.

This incident provided the major catalyst for developing the National Plan, originally called the National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil. In 1971, Commonwealth and state ministers agreed to the basic divisions of responsibility for combatting pollution of the sea by oil.

Originally managed by the then Commonwealth Department of Transport, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority took control of the National Plan when the agency was established in 1990.

In 2011, the National Plan was expanded to include maritime casualty response, and in 2012, was retitled the National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies, which it continues to be called to this day.

Some of the key incidents that have been managed under the National Plan include:

The National Plan is now reviewed every ten years to ensure it remains relevant, and fit-for-purpose. AMSA is currently in the process of a review, and is engaging with stakeholders across government, industry and the not-for-profit sector.

1 October 2023 marked the 50-year anniversary of the National Plan

Last updated: 3 October 2023