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Compliance focus areas for 2022-23 seek to improve compliance and maritime safety by analysing 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 best safety outcomes for our resource investment.

While these areas are our primary focus, we may 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 activities that are fundamental to meeting our international and domestic regulatory obligations and we are fully committed to delivering within the reporting period

Discretionary (D) – these are activities that will be achieved at the discretion of AMSA and within available resourcing capacity

Focus area 1: Port and flag State control

Risk Area 1: Deficiency and detention rates

PSC inspection data showed a slight increase in the deficiency rate from 2020 to 2021, however  the detention rate for the period was reduced.. For FSC inspections there was an increase in the deficiency rate and increased number of detentions in 2021 when compared to 2020.  

Focus (C)

AMSA will continue to conduct PSC inspection rates based on vessel priority according to the table below. We will increase the number of FSC inspections performed across the year by 10% and continue to conduct Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act inspections where the Act applies.

Priority GroupProbability of detention (risk factor)Target inspection rate
Priority 1More than 5%80%
Priority 24% to 5%60%
Priority 32% to 3%40%
Priority 41% or less20%

Risk Area 2: Planned maintenance

A lack of planned maintenance can have a significant impact on the safety of the vessel, people, and the marine environment. Nearly three quarters of all marine incident reports received by AMSA between 2019 and 2021 involved deficiencies or failures with onboard equipment, systems, or structures. Between January and March 2022, we conducted focused inspections on planned maintenance. Continued high rates of deficiencies highlights vessel maintenance as an ongoing area of concern.

Focus (C)

AMSA will continue to focus on the maintenance of vessels visiting Australian ports and will conduct an educational campaign including publication of a safety bulletin informed by the outcomes of the focussed inspections. We will continue to conduct detailed planned maintenance inspections on vessels throughout the year.

Develop and publish safety bulletinEducationQuarter 1NA
Conduct detailed planned maintenance inspections during routine PSCInspectionOngoing200 inspections

Risk Area 3: Fire safety

Review of fire incidents and nature of deficiencies has highlighted a need to increase awareness of fire safety around cargo and cargo operations. In 2021 there were three very serious fire incidents onboard international vessels in Australian waters and 13.6% of all PSC detainable deficiencies were for fire safety related issues.

The issue of fire safety has also been identified internationally, with the 2023 Tokyo Ocean MoU Concentrated Inspection Campaign topic being fire safety.

Focus (C)

AMSA will develop and publish a maritime safety bulletin in 2022/23 on fire safety with a focus on adapting fire prevention and firefighting practices to the cargo being carried onboard.

Develop and publish safety bulletinEducationQuarter 3

Risk Area 4: Water/weather tight integrity and conditions

Detainable deficiencies for water and weather tight integrity increased as a proportion of all detainable deficiencies in the past three years to 9% in 2021.

Watertight/weather tight integrity will remain an integral part of all PSC inspections and where there are significant failures related to water/weathertight integrity AMSA PSC officers will focus in this area.

Focus (D)

AMSA will carry out a safety compliance campaign focusing on water/weather tight integrity and will conduct detailed inspections targeting water and weather tight integrity throughout the financial year.

Develop and publish education campaignEducationQuarter 2NA
Conduct detailed water and weather tight integrity inspections during routine PSCInspectionOngoing200 inspections

Risk Area 5: Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Tokyo MoU Concentrated Inspection Campaign (CIC)

Participation in international concentrated inspection campaigns forms part of our engagement in the port State control MOU regions. Tokyo MOU CIC will be incorporated into AMSA’s annual national compliance plan.

Focus (C)

AMSA will participate in the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Concentrated Inspection Campaign.

Conduct STCW Concentrated Inspection CampaignInspectionQuarter 1 and 2

Risk Area 6: Cargo securing on ships

Across all PSC inspections in 2021, deficiencies relating to container securing and defective lashing equipment remained higher than previous years.

The continued issues around cargo securing (specifically containers) are a concern and present a threat to safety and the marine environment.

Focus (C)

AMSA will continue to focus in this area with an ongoing education campaign using the results of the 2021 focused inspections. AMSA will also continue its inspection focus on cargo securing throughout the financial year with 200 detailed cargo securing inspections on container vessels.

Publish information on cargo securingEducationOngoingNA
Conduct detailed cargo securing inspections during routine PSCInspectionOngoing200 inspections

Regional focus areas

Risk Area 7: Regional safety focus (VIC): Verified gross mass measurement of containers

Since 2016, shippers have been required to obtain and document the verified gross mass (VGM) of packed containers before loading.

Industry have raised concerns with AMSA that they continue to register container weights at the terminal which deviate significantly from the VGM weight recorded on shipping documentation.

Focus (C)

AMSA will conduct inspections throughout the year in Victorian container ports. Over the course of the year relevant statistics will be collated, with the aim to reduce the incidence of reported deviation between VGM and as-weighed container weights across the three focused inspections.

Conduct three focused VGM inspectionsInspectionQuarters 1; 2 and 420% reduction in average weight deviation for outliers

Risk Area 8: Regional safety focus (NSW): Grain inspections

With a greater than 20-fold increase in the number of vessels loading grain in bulk in some New South Wales ports, AMSA PSC inspectors have encountered a lack of understanding of the requirements of Marine Order 33 - Cargo and cargo handling – grain.

Focus (C)

AMSA will perform onboard grain inspections in NSW ports to raise the profile and awareness of the requirements of Marine Order 33.

Conduct onboard grain inspectionsInspectionQuarter 325 inspections

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)
  • Continue to participate in the Top Tier Joint Industry Project on container securing with the objective to lower the probability of loss of containers at sea. (D)

Focus area 2: Maritime Labour Convention

Risk Area 1: Living and working conditions

Since the implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006  (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. 

MLC complaints received in 2021 decreased by 12.5% from those received in 2020. The nature of complaints reported to AMSA in 2021 differed from the previous year with a reduction in complaints relating to seafarer employment agreements, repatriation and time onboard, and a commensurate increase in complaints related to health and safety protection and accident prevention, wages, and food and catering. MLC-related PSC deficiencies reduced slightly in 2021 from those recorded in 20202 but remain high in comparison to previous years. PSC statistics for 2021 showed an increase in breaches related to health and safety protection and accident prevention and the quality and quantity of food onboard. This information suggests that though the nature of the concerns on board ships from time may vary, seafarer’s welfare continues to be compromised with serious breaches of the MLC on board vessels.

We will continue to do our part to ensure seafarers on vessels visiting Australian ports are being afforded the requirements under the MLC.

Focus (C)

AMSA will continue to follow up all MLC complaints related to seafarer welfare.3

MLC Complaints Followed UpInspection100%

Additional Activities:

In addition, AMSA will

  • Continue to play a leading role in the Australian Seafarer Welfare Council (ASWC) to promote seafarer welfare services available in Australian ports through port welfare committees to support and protect seafarers. (C)
  • Continue to publish the annual MLC report to present 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

Risk Area 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 purpose.

Priority GroupRisk ScoreMin Inspection Frequency
Priority 1>=19Eligible every 12 months
Priority 217-18Eligible every 24 months
Priority 315-16Eligible every 48 months
Priority 40-14Eligible every 60 months

Focus (C)

AMSA will conduct 2,450 inspections of domestic commercial vessels based on vessel priority in accordance with the table below.

Priority GroupTarget inspection rate
Priority 180%
Priority 230%
Priority 310%
Priority 42%

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

Joint at sea compliance inspections with compliance partnersInspectionOngoing60 days

Risk Area 2: Risk assessment

Proper risk assessment is foundational for an effective safety management system (SMS). A lack of adequate risk assessments have been identified as a contributing factor in one third of marine incident investigation reports analysed to date.

Focus (C)

AMSA will conduct a safety compliance campaign which will include education and focused inspections on risk assessment, targeting Class 2 (non-passenger vessel) operations in port limits, including towage and vessel transfer operations.

Develop and conduct education focusing on risk assessmentEducationQuarter 2NA
Focused inspectionsInspectionQuarter 3100 inspections

Risk Area 3: Overdue periodic surveys

In February 2022, AMSA’s records indicated there were 1,405 overdue periodic surveys. It is a condition of the certificate of survey that periodic surveys are completed within a set timeframe.

AMSA aims to increase compliance in this area. Key to this activity will be reaching out to stakeholders directly to advise of AMSA’s record of their vessel’s survey status and ascertaining the reason for any lapse.

AMSA appreciates that in some cases certificate holders may not have informed AMSA if a vessel is sold, scrapped, sunk or if their address has changed, or have not provided evidence of a completed periodic survey. Hence the actual level of non-compliance is indeterminate.

Focus (C)

AMSA will engage with our stakeholders directly and notify them of alleged overdue surveys, record the outcomes and update our records accordingly. The need for education and follow up activity will be guided by the response of the stakeholders. The focus of this campaign is to communicate to our stakeholders the importance of survey from both a risk to the safety of the vessel, and compliance perspective.

Contact stakeholders, obtain information on overdue periodic surveys and provide education of survey requirementsEducation and Engagement


1 and 2

Overdue Periodic survey

Risk Area 4: Planned maintenance

Five of the top 10 most frequently identified deficiencies during inspection of domestic commercial vessels in 2020 and 2021 were for safety equipment being absent, out of service or in disrepair. This coupled with the volume of overdue periodic surveys has highlighted the need to address the effective implementation of maintenance programs.

Focus (C)

In 2021/2022 we will be working with operators to ensure planned maintenance schedules and plans are being put into practice to maintain the material state of the vessel, its equipment and certification.

AMSA will conduct a safety compliance campaign focusing on vessel maintenance which will also include lifejackets and safety equipment.

Develop and conduct education on implementing the maintenance planEducationQuarter 3NA
Planned maintenance focused inspectionsInspectionQuarter 4200 inspections

Risk Area 5: Marine Order 505 - Certificates of competency – national law, 2023 amendments

Marine Order 505 (Certificates of Competency) amendments will come into effect on 1 Jan 2023.

The new Marine Order 505 clarifies the requirement for seafarers to hold certificates of competency.

Focus (C)

AMSA will conduct an education campaign raising awareness of the changes in requirements surrounding crew certification in the period leading up to and following the new requirements coming into force

Develop and conduct education campaign focusing on changes in Marine Order 505EducationQuarter 1; 2 and 3

Regional focus areas

Risk Area 6: Regional safety focus – NSW. Onboard familiarisation

A lack of proper induction and training in key onboard operations before taking command or assuming duties on a vessel results in poor safety management system awareness, a recurring factor identified in marine incident investigations. This is a particular concern in sectors that employ casual workforces.

Focus (D)

AMSA will develop and conduct an education campaign focusing on the obligations of vessel owners to ensure that all personnel are qualified and properly inducted and trained in the operation of the vessel before assuming duties.  

This campaign will commence in NSW in 2022/23 with a focus on Class 1 (passenger) vessels. This will then be broadened to other vessel classes and regions.

Develop and conduct an education campaignEducationQuarter 4

Risk Area 7: Regional safety focus (QLD): Passenger vessel fire preparedness

During inspections in 2021, several Class 1 vessels across Queensland were observed to lack key fire safety measures typically incorporated in design, construction, and installation, and showed evidence of a failure to conduct appropriate maintenance and servicing to reduce the risks of fire.

Focus (C)

AMSA will conduct 200 inspections on Class 1 vessels in Queensland focusing on the fire safety arrangements and preparedness.

  • Vessel with berthing arrangements – 150
  • Vessel without berthing arrangements – 50
Passenger vessel fire preparedness focused inspectionsInspectionQuarter 1 and 2200 inspections

Risk Area 8: Regional safety focus (WA and NT): (Passenger vessel) tender operations

This campaign will aim to ensure that the safety management systems of Class 1 vessels operating and conducting tender operations carrying passengers are appropriately assessing the risks and requirements to conduct tender operations safely

Additionally, the inspections will also assess whether the configuration of the tenders including safety and communications equipment is appropriate for the location and nature of the activities being performed.

Focus (D)

AMSA will conduct inspections of Class 1 vessel tender operations across Western Australia and the Northern Territory focusing on operations where tenders are used for the transport of passengers ashore and to tourist attractions and fishing away from the main vessel.

Focused inspections on passenger vessel tender operationsInspectionOngoing60 inspections

Focus area 4: Search and rescue

Risk Area 1: Inadvertent beacon alerts in DCVs

The proportion of inadvertent beacon alerts in DCVs increased from 30% in 2020 to 42% in 2021.

Investigations following inadvertent beacon activations found that float-free beacons are being activated in heavy sea states, rain squalls and during high pressure cleaning of the vessel when at the berth suggesting that the EPIRBS are not being placed in the bracket correctly which would prevent the EPIRB from activating when contacted by water whilst still in the bracket.

Focus (C)

AMSA will conduct a targeted education campaign providing information on the importance of correct handling and stowage of float-free EPIRBS to prevent inadvertent activation.

Targeted education campaignEducationQuarter 110% reduction in inadvertent activations

Focus area 5: Environmental

Risk Area 1: Ship sulphur analysis

From 1 January 2020, Annex VI of MARPOL sulphur content in ships' bunker fuel oil was reduced from 3.50% mass by mass (m/m) to 0.50% m/m for ships operating outside designated emission control areas.

Traditionally fuel oil sulphur content has been detected via manual fuel sampling after a vessel has arrived in port. An alternate method to detect the sulphur content of fuel oil is through analysis of exhaust emissions by airborne ‘sniffer’ equipment. Because the physical presence of inspectors is not required for initial sampling, airborne sulphur sniffing equipment has the potential to increase the number of vessels in Australia waters whose fuel oil can be analysed to assess their compliance with Annex VI of MARPOL

Focus (D)

In addition to manual fuel oil sampling, AMSA will utilise airborne sulphur sniffing equipment on remotely piloted aircraft to detect possible non-compliance with Annex VI of MARPOL.

Targeted education campaignInspectionQuarter 1 and 2


AnchorPort and flag State control and domestic commercial vessel compliance issues identified are based on a full 2021 calendar year data. 

AnchorMLC complaint follow up is done either through an onboard inspection and/or via the flag State. AMSA will also continue to promote the use of the on-board complaints process.