Compliance focus areas for 2021-22 seek to improve compliance and maritime safety by analysing of safety data1 to identify areas of concern. We will prioritise our tailored compliance initiatives and allocate resources in the most efficient and effective way to achieve the most safety outcomes for our resource investment.

While these areas are our primary focus, we will broaden and adjust our efforts to other areas in response to new data and emerging trends.

The trends and data analysis in each of the identified focus areas inform the risks and the actions we will take to improve safety outcomes.

Within these focus areas we have identified responses and activities that are:

Core (C) – these are responses and activities that are fundamental to meeting our international and domestic regulatory obligations and that we are fully committed to delivering within the 2021-22 financial year. 

Discretionary (D) - these are responses and activities that will be achieved at the discretion of AMSA management and within available resourcing.

Focus area 1: Port and Flag State Control (PSC and FSC)

Issue 1: Deficiency rates

Inspection data shows an increase in deficiency rates across all deficiency groups in 2020 when compared to the previous two years. 

Response (C)

We will continue with PSC inspection rates based on vessel priority according to the table below. In addition, we will plan to conduct 120 FSC Inspections that include Occupational Health and Safety (Marine Industry) Act inspections. 

PSC priority group Probability of detention (risk factor) Target inspection rate
Priority 1 More than 5% 80%
Priority 2 4% to 5% 60%
Priority 3 2% to 3% 40%
Priority 4 1% or less 20%


Issue 2: Navigational safety

Inspection data showed an increase in deficiencies and detentions related to navigational safety. In 2020 we recorded the highest number of navigational related deficiencies compared to the previous 10 years. One in every four vessels inspected were issued a navigational related deficiency. Detentions related to the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) also increased from one in 2017 to nine in 2020. Issues included inadequate voyage planning and lack of familiarity with navigation systems.

Response (C)

AMSA will focus efforts to ensure vessels operating in Australian waters are navigating safely and the company has the right procedures and training in place to ensure navigating officers are familiar in the use of critical navigation systems such as electronic charts.

Steps Activity Target
Publish revised Marine Notice 07/2017 Education 21/22 Quarter 1
Develop and publish maritime safety bulletin Education 21/22 Quarter 1
Conduct inspection campaign Inspection 200 inspections

Issue 3: Maintenance

A lack of planned maintenance can have significant safety impacts on the vessel, its personnel and the marine environment. In 2020, six vessels were detained for not maintaining the vessel after survey, whilst in 2019 there were none.

Response (D)

AMSA will conduct a focused inspection campaign in 2021-22 on planned maintenance. The focus is to ensure vessels are carrying out planned maintenance activities, thereby reducing the risk of critical equipment failure.

Steps Activity Target
Conduct planned maintenance inspection campaign Inspections 200 inspections
Published planned maintenance campaign results Communication 21/22 Quarter 3

Additional activities

In addition, AMSA will:

  • Participate in the Toyko Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concentrated stability inspection campaign from the 1 September to 30 November 2021 (C)
  • Continue to evaluate and educate inspectors on a new post state control risk calculator to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the port state control targeting system (C)
  • Continue to monitor compliance of coastal pilots with the fatigue and rest management plan and the minimum under keel clearance for vessels under pilotage through the Torres Strait (C).

Focus area 2: Maritime Labour Convention

Issue 1: Living and working conditions

Since the implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), AMSA has made a significant contribution to improving the living and working conditions of seafarers on ships. We will continue to apply a zero-tolerance approach to breaches that compromise seafarer welfare. 

Data suggests seafarer's welfare continues to be compromised with serious breaches of the MLC found on board vessels. In 2020, there was a 46% increase in MLC deficiencies issued during port state control inspections from the previous year. We will continue to do our part to ensure seafarers on vessels visiting Australian ports are receiving the care and protection required under the MLC. All seafarers complaints received will continue to be followed up. 

Response (C)

AMSA will continue to follow up all MLC complaints related to seafarer welfare 2

Steps Activity Target
MLC Complaints Followed Up Inspections 100%

Issue 2: Maximum continuous service on board

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has been particularly challenging with the number of complaints relating to repatriation showing a substantial increase compared to previous years. While from early 2021 there has been a reduction in the number of seafarers serving on board vessels for more than 11 months, we will continue to monitor this situation and enforce the maximum continuous service on board limits in accordance with the convention. 

Response (C)

We will continue to enforce the maximum continuous service on board limits in accordance with the Maritime Labour Convention. 

Steps Activity Target
Maximum continuous shipboard service on vessels visiting Australia is less 11 months 3 Inspections <5% of all vessels inspected have a crewmember serving longer than 11 months
Publish results Education Quarter 4

Issue 3: Hours of work and rest

Fatigue and working hours continue to be significant and recurring MLC issues and can lead to significant safety risk. 

Response (D)

AMSA will conduct a focused inspection campaign (FIC) on the hours of work and hours of rest in accordance with the MLC. 

Steps Activity Target
Hours of work and rest FIC Inspections 200 inspections

Additional activities

In addition, AMSA will: 

  • Continue to lead the Australian Seafarer Welfare Council (ASWC) to promote seafarer welfare services available in Australian ports to support and protect seafarers (C)
  • Continue to publish the annual MLC report with an analysis of MLC complaints, compliance and follow up actions undertaken in Australia (C)
  • Enhance our audit program for Australian seafarer recruitment providers in line with MLC requirements (D).

Focus area 3: Domestic Commercial Vessels (DCVs)

Issue 1: DCV inspection targeting 

AMSA employs a targeting prioritisation model that is risk-based. The analysis of more comprehensive inspection data has allowed further refinement of risk profiles for targeting purposes based on vessel class deficiency rates. 

Response (C) 

AMSA will continue to conduct targeted inspections based on the vessel priority ratings listed below. Greater emphasis will be placed on classes of vessels that have a higher than the national average of deficiencies per inspection and vessels that have no previous inspection history 4

Priority group * Inspection target (% of vessels in priority group)
Priority 1 20%
Priority 2 10%
Priority 3 4%
Priority 4 4%

Priority 1 vessel class (Deficiency rate >0.75 above the national average)

Priority 2 vessel class (Deficiency rate >0.5 <0.75 above the national average)

Priority 3 vessel class (Deficiency rate <0.5 above the national average)

Priority 4 vessel class (Deficiency rate at or below the national average)

In addition, AMSA will conduct a minimum of 60 days at sea as part of joint operations with our compliance partners targeting the crew and fleet of DCVs (D)

Steps Activity Target
Joint at sea compliance inspections with compliance partners Inspections 60 days

Issue 2: Safety Management Systems (Risk Assessment)

Safety Management System (SMS) deficiencies made up the majority of compliance findings in 2020, accounting for 13% of deficiencies issued. Further it was found that SMS processes accounted for 60% of investigation findings. Analysis of these findings identified that poor, lack of ineffective risk assessment comprised the main issue. 

Response (C) 

AMSA will conduct a safety campaign focusing on risk assessment as a foundation of Safety Management System. 

Steps Activity Target
Educational Campaign focusing on risk assessment Education  21/22 Quarter 3
Focused inspection campaign Inspection 250 inspections

Issue 3: Construction barges (Risk Assessment)

In 2020, there were 27 incidents involving construction barges with 8 very serious which included one fatality. In comparison, there were 15 incidents on barges in 2019. Initial investigations identified inadequate risk assessments as a common contributory safety issue to these incidents. 

Response (C) 

AMSA will commence a safety campaign focusing on construction barges with a particular emphasis on risk assessment. We will work jointly with WHS State authorities in delivering this campaign. 

Steps Activity Target
Educational campaign focusing on risk assessment of construction barges Education  21/22 Quarter 2
Joint focused inspection campaign Inspection 100 inspections

Issue 4: Passenger safety

AMSA conducted a safety campaign in 2020 which included a Focused Inspection Campaign (FIC) into passenger safety. 30% of vessels inspected did not have an effective passenger monitoring system. Ongoing reinforcement of the changes to passenger safety will be conducted especially for smaller passenger operations. 

Response (C) 

AMSA will continue with an education campaign and a second focused inspection campaign to reinforce passenger safety monitoring requirements. 

Steps Activity Target
Educational campaign focusing on smaller operators Education 21/22 Quarter 1
Conduct inspection campaign Inspection 200 inspections

Issue 5: Fatigue 

Fatigue is a safety hazard that impairs individual performance, health and wellbeing. An analysis of AMSA incident investigation data identified fatigue (around 7%) as one of the onboard conditions that contributed to serious incidents. The issue of fatigue is supported by the results of a survey conducted by AMSA in which 66% of respondents indicated that they were regularly fatigued when on voyages longer than 12 hours in length, with a further 50% indicating they had not received or were not aware of fatigue management training or guidance. 

Response (C) 

We will commence an education campaign focusing on the risks associated with fatigue and develop associated guidance. We will work closely with Work Health and Safety (WHS) State/Territory authorities in developing and delivering this campaign. 

Steps Activity Target
Education campaign focusing on fatigue



21/22 Quarter 2

Issue 6: Tender (Dory) Operations Safety 

In 2020, six search and rescue incidents were attributed to dory fishing operations in the Great Barrier Reef. As a result, 61 dory fishing operation vessels were inspected in Queensland with an average deficiency rate per inspection of 4.85 deficiencies. This figure is 100% higher than the national average for fishing vessels operating in restricted offshore waters, indicating a significant shortfall in marine safety compliance in this sector.

Response (D)

AMSA will continue its focused compliance activities on the tender (dory) fishing operations in Queensland.

Steps Activity Target
Inspection campaign on fishing dories in Queensland Inspection 80% of the active fleet

Issue 7: Marine incident reporting

AMSA incident data indicates a level of underreporting in the domestic commercial vessel sector. AMSA received 3500 incident notifications from regulated Australian and foreign flagged vessels in 2020 with approximately 93% of these being Less Serious incident notifications. In contrast, we received from the comparatively larger domestic commercial vessel fleet (around 4 times larger) 756 marine incident notifications in the same period. This data aligns with other research carried out which identifies that between 50-60% of incidents remain unreported. Incident reporting is well accepted as important data for improving safety. 

Response (C)

We will commence an education campaign focusing on encouraging incident reporting. AMSA will work with industry and other relevant State/Territory agencies in delivering an outcome. 

Steps Activity Target
Educational campaign focusing on incident reporting



21/22 Quarter 1

Issue 8: Accredited Marine Surveyors

AMSA relies on the recommendations of accredited marine surveyors and Recognised Organisations when making decisions on vessel certificates. Surveyor’s recommendations and reports should provide reliable evidence that vessels comply with the legislation. In 2020, 84 correction actions were recorded against accredited marine surveyors, and we finalised 16 show cause or suspension actions, this represented 5% of number of approved accredited surveyors in 2020.

Response (C)

AMSA will conduct an audit campaign to focus on ensuring compliance with the surveyor accreditation guidance manual (SAGM). 

Steps Activity Target
Safety Compliance Campaign on AMSA accredited surveyors Audit >20% of active AMSA accredited surveyors

Additional activities

In addition, AMSA will: 

  • Support indigenous communities in Queensland and the Northern Territory and work with local and federal support agencies through the delivery of education campaigns on operational safety (C)
  • Continue to support the activities of the National Boating Safety Week in cooperation with the Australia and New Zealand Safe Boating Education Group (ANZSBEG) (D)
  • Continue to evaluate and explore ways to transition grandfathered vessels into survey (C)
  • Continue to publish the annual incident reports presenting trend analyses of incident data over the last year. These analyses will continue to refine our focus areas (C)
  • Continue to liaise with industry via AMSA’s 'Regional Safety Committees' which meet biannually. These eight committees inform and help guide the national stakeholder framework and are a key consultation forum for AMSA (C)
  • Continue to broaden our compliance partnerships with other government entities to increase our reach (C).

Note: Whilst the port/flag State control compliance issues identified are based on a full 2020 calendar year inspection data, the domestic commercial vessel compliance issues are based on the last 6 months of 2020 inspection data. This will be expanded in future national compliance plans. 

Focus area 4: Search and rescue

Issue 1: EPIRB registration

An emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) is an essential piece of equipment in preparing for the unexpected. Registration of EPIRBs allows us to contact the user's emergency contacts and look up essential information to initiate a response. 

In 2020 AMSA responded to 2018 beacon activations.

In 2020, 13 per cent of beacon activations we responded to were incorrectly registered, representing a 6% annual increase in responses to unregistered beacon activations in 2020.

A response to an unregistered or incorrectly registered distress beacon is often delayed while we attempt to identify and contact the beacon holder.

Response (C)

We will continue to work with all our stakeholders to increase the beacon registration rates in Australia and improve the accuracy of beacon registration information.

Additionally, we continue to educate our stakeholders on the importance of registering and updating registration information for beacons.                                                                                                                                                                                             

Steps Activity Target
Educational campaign on beacon registrations for all stakeholders



A decrease in the number of unregistered and incorrectly registered beacons

Additional activities

In addition, AMSA will: 

  • Continue to work closely with the ANZSBEG noting that a higher percentage of beacon activations are from recreational vessels and to inform the National Search and Rescue Council (C)
  • Continue to enforce the domestic commercial vessel operators' requirements to have a registered EPIRB when operating beyond 2 nautical miles from land (C).

Focus area 5: Environmental

Issue 1: Domestic commercial vessels - Engine International Air Pollution Prevention (EIAPP) Certification Compliance

Australia has international obligations to prevent air pollution from ships. These obligations extend beyond international trading vessels and to domestic commercial vessels. Evidence is required for domestic commercial vessels with an engine size greater than 130 KW to confirm the vessel complies with the minimum international nitrogen oxide emission limits (NOx). NOx as an air pollutant has direct and indirect effects on human health and the marine environment. Currently there are an estimated 2500 domestic vessels without evidence of compliance.

Response (C)

Domestic vessel EIAPP certification- awareness and education activities will occur throughout 2021 with a compliance focus to commence from January 2022. 

Steps Activity Target
EIAPP Awareness Communication 21/22 Quarter 1
EIAPP Education Education 21/22 Quarter 1
EIAPP Compliance Audit 21/22 Quarter 3

Issue 2: Regulated Australia and Foreign Flagged Vessels Fuel Compliance

Air pollution under MARPOL Annex VI remains an important part of meeting our international obligations and we will continue to randomly sample vessel fuels for analysis to monitor compliance in Australian waters. The random sampling of vessel fuels has occurred yearly since 2020 and results continue to indicate a high level of compliance.

Response (D)

Continue to conduct a random sampling program to monitor environmental compliance with international convention requirements in Australian waters for regulated Australian vessels and foreign flag vessels.

Steps Activity Target
Conduct a random sampling program of ship fuel to validate accuracy of the bunker delivery note Inspection 21/22 Quarter 3
Conduct a random sampling program of ship fuel to validate accuracy of the bunker delivery note.  Inspection 21/22 Quarter 3

Issue 3: Cargo securing on ships

There have been 22 incidents of container loss in Australian waters in the last 12 years, 58% of which has involved multiple loss of containers at sea. 

In 2020, there was a 54% increase in the number of deficiencies relating to container securing, and of these 19.7% related to corroded or defective lashing equipment, and 16% related to container securing not being carried out in accordance with the cargo securing manual. 

The continued issues around cargo securing (specifically containers) are a concern and present a threat to the Australian marine environment and domestic vessels, from a safety and economic perspective.

Response (C)

Continue to focus on cargo securing with 200 standalone cargo securing inspections to be carried out nationally in 2021/22.

Steps Activity Target
Cargo securing focus for container vessels Inspection

5% of container vessel arrivals


Additional activities

In addition, AMSA will: 

  • Work with the Tokyo MOU and Indian Ocean MOU to highlight the growing concerns of container securing at the IMO (C)
  • AMSA will participate in a joint industry project organised by the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) on container securing with the objective to lower the probability of loss of containers at sea (D).


1 Whilst the port/flag State control compliance issues identified are based on a full 2020 calendar year inspection data, the domestic commercial vessel compliance issues are based on the last 6 months of 2020 inspection data. This will be expanded in future national compliance plans. 

2 MLC complaints follow up are done either through an onboard inspection, through the promotion of the on-board complaints process or via the flag State. 

3 AMSA will continue to take a pragmatic approach to applying the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006) requirements for the maximum continuous period that a seafarer can serve on board a vessel without taking leave during the period of disruption that has been caused by COVID-19. 

4 AMSA will continue to profress a data driven targeting model that will focus on operator performance rather than vessel class alone in 2021/22.