Call for public consultation on Marine Order 505 changes

The Australian Safety Management Authority (AMSA) has today released a range of changes for certificates of competency and sets out standards for the qualifications of the crew and masters on domestic commercial vessels as part of Marine Order 505. The changes are now open for public comment until 14 November 2021.

The guidelines outline the changes to the certificates of competency resulting from the new Marine Order 505, including the eligibility criteria for the new Coxswain Grade 3 certificate of competency.

It also makes changes to medical certificates and sea time requirements, as well as endorsements and restrictions.

Marine safety shifted to a single national legislation and management arrangement under the Australian Safety Management Authority (AMSA) in 2018.

Marine Orders are ‘subordinate legislation’ with powers delegated to AMSA by Parliament. Delegation provides flexibility in making changes to management arrangements without the pressure on parliamentary time and where the legislation is technical or detailed and not suitable for parliamentary consideration.

Marine Order 505 (MO505) sets out the arrangements for certificates of competency – the tickets required to drive vessels and carryout engineering on vessels. The review was carried out over the past two years using an industry reference group, including representatives from the commercial fishing industry from WA.

This work is now complete and the proposed marine order has been released for public consultation.

The eight week public consultation opens on 20 September 2021 and closes on 14 November 2021. Submissions should be sent to [email protected]

Proposed Changes

The proposed Marine Order 505 outlines changes to some of the existing certificate of competency arrangements and introduces some new certificates including:

  •      new arrangements for General Purpose Hand (deck crew) certification (see note below)
  •      a new Coxswain Grade 3 certificate replacing the existing Exemption 38 (Low complexity duties);
  •      replacement of the Master <35m certificate with a Master <45m certificate;
  •      replacement of the Master<80m certificate with a Master <100m certificate;
  •      changes to medical certificates and sea time requirements;
  •      changes to endorsements and restrictions; and
  •      impact on the current certificate of competency exemptions.

Note: A significant issue debated during the review was whether or not there is a mandatory requirement for deck crew to hold a certificate of competency, known as a General Purpose Hand (GPH) certificate.

The proposed MO505 sets out that a GPH will not be required if the person assisting with deck work on a vessel less than 100 metres long and less than 3000 gross tonnes and operating inside the EEZ is under ‘direct supervision’ of the master of the vessel, or the person whom the master delegates the supervision. Direct supervision is defined as meaning that the deck crew being supervised is frequently within sight and hearing of the supervisor (master or delegate). This differs from ‘general supervision’ defined as meaning that the deck crew is supervised, but is not frequently attended by the supervisor.

Where a GPH certificate is not required there remains an emphasis on the vessel operators to induct and train their crew appropriately in relation to their specific fishing operations.

The proposed Marine Order and explanatory guidelines are attached below for your consideration. 

Marine Order 505 PROPOSED DRAFT

MO505 guidelines on the changes to competencies and exemptions

Standards for the medical examination of domestic seafarers.

This information is available from 20 September 2021 at

Where to from here?

  1. WAFIC will be coordinating the peak industry sector bodies and the general industry across the State to ensure submissions are consistent and thorough.
  2. We encourage you to circulate the documentation through your networks and coordinate a submission from your organisation.
  3. We ask that a copy of your submission to AMSA is forwarded to WAFIC ([email protected]) to allow full understanding of your organisation’s position in relation to these documents and to assist with development of the WAFIC submission.

Please do not hesitate to contact Brett McCallum or Chris Battel (AMSA Liaison Manager WA) [email protected] or 0437 788 291.