Australian Maritime Safety Authority

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Australian Maritime Safety Authority
AMSA on Northbourne ave.jpg
Offices in Canberra
Statutory authority overview
Formed 1990
Jurisdiction Australian exclusive economic zone
Headquarters Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Minister responsible
Dornier 328-110 at Essendon Airport, 2007

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is responsible, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, for the regulation and safety oversight of Australia's shipping fleet and management of Australia's international maritime obligations.[1] AMSA is funded largely through levies on the shipping industry. The authority has a jurisdiction over Australia's exclusive economic zone which covers an area of 11,000,000 square kilometres (4,200,000 sq mi).[2]

It was established in 1990,[3] under the Australian Maritime Safety Act 1990.[4] The authority belongs to the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.[1] Directors are appointed by the minister.[4] Other international treaties which AMSA administers include the Navigation Act 2012 and the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983.[2]

In the 2010-2011 financial year, AMSA recorded expenses of just over $146 million, with revenue at just under $159 million, creating a surplus of more than $10 million.[5]


Marine safety activities by AMSA:

  1. the provision, operation and maintenance of a network of marine aids to navigation, for example, lighthouses;
  2. ensuring the seaworthiness and safe operation of Australian and foreign vessels in Australian waters, including the enforcement of compulsory pilotage;[2]
  3. administering the certification of seafarers;
  4. the provision of a |maritime distress and safety communications network;
  5. the operation of Australia's Rescue Coordination Centre and coordination of search and rescue (SAR) operations for civilian aircraft and vessels in distress;[6] and
  6. the development of a maritime safety commercial vessel legislative framework and operating system.

AMSA aims to protect the marine environment by administering programs to prevent and respond to the threat of ship-sourced marine pollution; and together with the Australian Marine Oil Spill Centre, managing Australia's National Plan to combat pollution of the sea by oil and other noxious and hazardous substances.

It is responsible for administering MARPOL 73/78,[4] an international marine environmental convention designed to minimize pollution of the seas. AMSA can instigate prosecutions itself, but mainly works with states and territories during investigations and enforcement activities such as vessel inspections.[4] A recent major AMSA project involved the rewrite of the Navigation Act 1912, the agency's governing statute.

New responsibilities[edit]

Regulation of pedalos is a new AMSA responsibility

AMSA recently[when?] developed policy which led to the transfer of responsibility for the regulation of small commercial vessels from states and territories to the Commonwealth to deal with issues identified by the agency which affect hired canoes, row boats and pedalos and other small craft. The proposal is controversial in some jurisdictions due to lack of reliable information to support the initiative and due to increases in administrative costs borne by states and territories.[7]


The Authority publishes a range of materials in relation to maritime safety.[8]As of 2011 its maritime survival manual Survival at Sea: A Training and Instruction Manual is in its 6th edition.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Australian Maritime Safety Authority". Department of Infrastructure and Transport. Archived from the original on May 25, 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Ornitz, Barbara E.; Michael A. Champ (2002). Oil Spills First Principles: Prevention and Best Response. Elsevier. p. 274. ISBN 0080428142. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Australian Maritime Safety Authority (2001), AMSA's first decade, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, ISBN 978-0-642-70990-5 
  4. ^ a b c d White, M. W. D. (2007). Australasian Marine Pollution Laws. Federation Press. pp. 200–201. ISBN 1862875529. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Annual Report 2010-11". Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "History: Australian Search and Rescue (AusSAR)". Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Retrieved 24 February 2015. A national centre was established by the Federal Government in 1997 for coordination of Australia's civil search and rescue (SAR) activities. ... Australian Maritime Safety Authority has merged the former aviation SAR responsibilities of Air Services Australia with its own maritime SAR responsibilities 
  7. ^ See Parliamentary debate in Victoria in relation to that State's Marine (Domestic Commercial Vessel National Law Application) Bill 2013.
  8. ^ "Publications". Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "Survival at Sea: A Training and Instruction Manual" (6th ed.). Australian Maritime Safety Authority. 2011. ISBN 978-0-9806416-3-9. 

External links[edit]