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Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Phase 2 review

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Phase 2 review

It has recently come to our attention that the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts is conducting a review of the current Domestic Commercial Vessels Legislation. This legislation is administered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.  The review is being conducted in two phases, the first focuses on the National Law framework (the draft interim safety report is available at https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/department/media/publications/draft-interim-safety-report-independent-review-domestic-commercial-vessel-safety-legislation ) and the second considers the national system delivery costs and future funding options (Phase 2). 

The closing date for phase 2 submissions was Friday, January 27th and at short notice Outdoors Victoria made a submission highlighting concerns regarding the impact of this legislation particularly around human-powered canoes and kayaks used in the context of camps, outdoor programs and outdoor education. (view the Outdoors Victoria response here) The good news is that in collaboration with other State peaks and the Outdoor Council of Australia (OCA) we have been able to gain a 6-week extension period for further industry consultation. In the coming weeks, we will be inviting your feedback regarding how this legislation currently impacts our sector.

Back in 2018, the Federal Government informed the OCA that for a period of 3 years, the system would not be enforced within our sector. Through recent advice from an OV member, we have become aware that AMSA is now beginning to apply the requirements and as of now the legislation requires all Domestic Commercial Vessels (DCV’s including canoes and kayaks) to be “registered” as part of the national system. Many outdoor providers should comply with the current legislation although there are several vessels that are excluded from the system including:

  • a vessel owned and operated by a ‘prescribed community group’ and not hired to or used as a charter for a person who is not a member of the community group
  • a vessel owned by a primary or secondary school and not hired or used as a charter for a person who is not a student at the school
  • a vessel owned by the Australian Institute of Sport, or a State or Territory government sports institute

The system and the range of exemptions appear rather complex, but based on our investigations and advice from AMSA outdoor providers have two options to meet the legislative requirements.

Option 1: Have the vessel/s covered by a certificate of operation, which will require renewing every 5 years ($212 per fleet). This will allow the vessel/s to be exempted from requiring a unique identifier under Exemption 1 (Vessel Identifiers).

  • This option may suit operators with a high number of unpowered vessels that are replaced frequently.  It may be more cost and time effective to obtain and renew a certificate of operation once every five years, rather than paying the prescribed fee for applying for a unique identifier per vessel.

Option 2:
 Apply for a unique identifier for each vessel.

  • This option may suit operators who have only a small number of human-powered vessels or human-powered vessels that are not frequently replaced, as UVI’s are issued in perpetuity ($173 per vessel). Exemption 3 can then be utilised for vessels that hold a UVI, meaning there are no ongoing 5 yearly certificate of operation renewals. 
  • Under Exemption 1 human-powered vessels that obtain a UVI are not required to display them on the vessel. 

Finally, under Marine Order 504 all commercial vessels require a safety management system. There is no requirement to lodge this with an application and we believe that operators following the AAAS and Good Practice Guide framework should be able to meet this requirement without further significant effort.

Whilst fully supporting all endeavours to improve safety outcomes for participation in the outdoors, Outdoors Victoria does not believe Marine Order 504 contributes to this for our sector and OV  will continue to voice concerns about what we believe is the inappropriate application of this legislation to human-powered vessels used in led outdoor activities. When the request for your feedback arrives in the coming weeks please ensure you take a few moments to provide feedback. Our hope is that through a National collective voice, our sector will gain a suitable outcome.

For further information, please contact ceo@outdoorsvictoria.org.au