WAFIC believes every professional fisher has a right to operate in as safe a workplace as possible given the inherent nature of working at sea in unpredictable  weather conditions.

This is why we have established a dedicated Safety and Training page on our website.

Why have we located ‘Safety and Training’ under the Resource Access section? Well, if fishing vessels cannot go to sea, fishermen cannot ‘access the resource’. There are many marine safety and workplace safety reasons why vessels may not be able to go to sea:

  • Vessels may not meet government marine safety regulations and authorities stop vessels for going to sea;
  • Skippers and crew may not be properly qualified to work your vessel;
  • Workplace health and safety arrangements are inadequate and authorities have shut down your fishing operation.

This section of the WAFIC website is designed to direct you to:

  • The current government regulations for marine safety;
  • The current government regulations for workplace safety (Note: Workplace safety comes under separate legislation to marine safety in WA – see below);
  • Important matters on upcoming changes to safety and training that may impact your fishing or aquaculture business;
  • Latest news in safety and training affecting the fishing and aquaculture industry.

Marine Safety – relates to vessel construction, vessel survey specifications, skippers tickets, engineers tickets, life-saving equipment, radios, navigation, safety management systems, vessel operating limitations and emergency procedures.

Workplace Safety – relates to how the owner, skipper and crew of any vessel manage health and safety in the workplace including safety management systems, training, on-board safety drills and emergency procedures. (Note: A fishing vessel is regarded as a ‘workplace’)

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Photo: Corrina Ridgway

The cost of safety and training can represent a significant investment for fishing or aquaculture operations but failure to plan ahead and manage safety-at-sea can have an even greater impact on your crew’s well-being or even their life.

It is important that the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry understands:

  • how to access information on the marine safety and workplace safety rules relevant to an individual or a vessel;
  • how industry can provide input to make sure the rules, and any proposed changes, are practical to implement; and,
  • the processes used by government to introduce or change the marine and workplace safety rules.


Are you Doing Everything to Make Sure You and your Crew Come Home?

 If you are reading this you are probably an owner, skipper or deckie on a fishing vessel or you have a partner, child or grandchild working on a fishing vessel. Fishing is the last of the ‘hunter-gatherer’industries, man vs the sea, long traditions and embedded culture.

But ask yourself – are you doing everything in your power to make sure you and your crew come home?

Watch this video before reading on: https://vimeo.com/264380465

Rules and regulations set minimum standards but only the people who own, skipper and work on a fishing vessel can make sure everythinghas been done to be safe while at sea.

Do you think that your mates on-board the vessel with you know how to save you in an emergency? What happens if they don’t?

Ask your self these simple questions.

  • Does your vessel have a documented safety management system (SMS)?
  • Have you trained your crew in how that SMS works on your vessel?
  • Does your vessel practice emergency procedures on a regular basis, especially when a new crew member joins the vessel? Does everyone on board know exactly what to do if a man goes overboard or there is a fire or the vessel starts to sink or a hand goes into a winch or net drum? Do you know what to do?
  • Do you have a problem wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) while working? If so, ask yourself why is this a problem – then ask yourself if it would be a bigger problem being tossed overboard without a PFD (fitted with a strobe light and a personal EPIRB) in the middle of the night or in rough weather conditions?

Ask your loved ones if they think it is a problem with you wearing a PFD while at sea or do they think that it is a waste of time doing regular training drills in emergency procedures?

Now go back and watch the video again and listen to the crab fishermen who after 25 years fishing still ran into a dangerous situation he never expected. Are you like him and think you’ve got it all under control – then ask yourself if you really do have it all under control?

The new AMSA authorities will be visiting every vessel in WA in the near future and they will be asking you how your vessel is dealing with all the basic things raised in the questions above. Where a deficiency exists the owner may be asked to show cause as to why their vessel should not be prohibited from going to sea until the deficiencies are rectified.

Why not get on the front foot, develop your safe system of working on your vessel, train your crew in how to work safely on your vessel, regularly practice emergency procedures while at sea and encourage your crew to wear personal safety equipment when appropriate.

Keep asking yourself the question – Am I doing everything to make sure my crew and I come home?


New Year Safety Resolutions

The new AMSA authorities will be visiting every vessel in WA in the near future and they will be asking you how your vessel is dealing with all the basic things raised in the questions above. Where a deficiency exists the owner may be asked to show causeas to why their vessel should not be prohibited from going to seauntil the deficiencies are rectified.

Why not get on the front foot, develop your safe system of working on your vessel, train your crew in how to work safely on your vessel, regularly practice emergency procedures while at sea and encourage your crew to wear personal safety equipment when appropriate.

Keep asking yourself the question – Am I doing everything to make sure my crew and I come home?

 1. Develop a Safety Management System for your Vessel

Safety management systems (SMS) ensure commercial vessels are maintained and operated safely.

If you own or operate a commercial fishing vessel (including those under the AMSA ‘grandfathered’ arrangements) you are required by law to implement and maintain an SMS for your specific vessel. This includes vessels that are exempt from needing a certificate of operation.

2. Carryout Regular Emergency Procedures Drills with your Crew

Your Safety Management System (SMS) should describe how to manage all these emergency situations BUTyou must practice the emergency procedures to help train you and your crew to become ‘drilled’ in what to do if a real emergency arises.

Don’t leave things to chance. Practice every three months or whenever a new crew member comes aboard. Log these practice sessions in your vessel log.

3. Electrical Safety – Install Residual Currency Devices

The State’s energy safety regulator is urging business owners to do a simple check of their residual current devices (RCDs) – the compulsory life-saving switches that protect against electrocution.

4. Cyclone contingency plans must be in place

Business owners and operators must ensure that contingency plans have been established and are in operation for cyclones.

For full details on important safety matters read the full Safety and Training Update in this Newsletter.



Register your interest – AMSA Safety Management System Workshops

AMSA are continuing their commitment to safety education for maritime industries.

AMSA will be holding a range of safety management system workshops targeting  Fishing Vessels (Class 3).

All workshops will be free of charge to vessel owners, operators and crew.

To register your interest go to: https://www.amsa.gov.au/register-your-interest-upcoming-safety-management-system-sms-workshops
Spotlight on vessel overloading

AMSA has recently observed instances of overloaded pot loading by some Western Rock Lobster fleet vessels.

In Western Australia, older vessels under 16 metres remain grandfathered and are not required to maintain stability documentation on board AS LONG as they continue to comply with the following requirements imposed prior to 1 July 2013—better known as the beam on eight rule.

‘Class 3 vessels less than 16 m in measured length are not required to have their stability assessed providedthat the freeboard from the heaviest loaded waterline to the freeboard deck is greater than the maximum beam at the heaviest loaded waterline, divided by 8. Vessels that fall into this category (freeboard >beam/8) but which engage in operations resulting in excessive weights on deck or rigging (e.g. tuna fishing, trawling, large fish tanks on deck etc) shall meet full stability criteria’ 

Existing vessels that work under these grandfathering rules should self-monitor their loading conditions by calculating the maximum beam divided by eight and marking this minimum measurement on their stern quarters to ensure these minimum freeboard limits are not exceeded. In recent times some vessels have lost their grandfathering status by invalidating the beam on eight parameters by adding tanks or additional reels. They have then had to acquire a stability book having been assessed as falling outside of the grandfathered conditions by their surveyors or compliance activity.

These concerns about unsafe loading practices are echoed across the industry with operators wanting to see better safety practices with their industry. There is a community expectation that fishing vessels are operating safely so the people who work on board them come home safe.

AMSA will be actively focused on unsafe loading practices. Our marine safety inspectors will be interviewing vessel operators about their vessel’s loading conditions and assessing them against current requirements or by applying the existing rule conditions to a loaded vessel. Vessels that cannot demonstrate safe loading could be asked to alter the loading until it complies or be issued with a compliance notice.

Instances of overloaded vessels does call into question a vessel operator’s knowledge and implementation of:

  1. The vessel’s stability and loading conditions.
  2. The safety management system and risk assessment, including how the vessel’s loading condition could be impeding the ability to deal with an emergency or to conduct safe work on board the vessel.
  3. Workplace Health and Safety obligations under WorkSafe legislation.
  4. Obligations of the owner, master and crew under the general safety duties provision of the National Law Act 2012.

If you want more information about fishing vessel stability visit amsa.gov.au


AMSA Simplifies Recreational Use of Commercial Fishing Vessels

Using your commercial fishing vessel for recreational purposes just got easier. Approval is no longer required from AMSA to operate recreationally under Exemption 04.

There are still limitations and important conditions that you need to follow if you are going to operate recreationally. To operate under Exemption 04 your vessel must:

  • be used only recreationally and not be used at the same time or in connection with a commercial, governmental or research activity
  • comply with maximum load and passenger restrictions
  • comply with local recreational vessel requirements, except those requiring the vessel to be registered as a recreational vessel or to meet Australian Builder’s Plate requirements
  • deal with the risks of operating recreationally in the your vessel’s safety management system (SMS)
  • secure or isolate any powered equipment, lifting equipment or other machinery that could present a danger to passengers
  • record any recreational use in the vessel’s log book.

Operating under Exemption 04 does not make your vessel a ‘recreational vessel’.

All commercial vessel requirements other than crewing and operational area continue to apply including:

  • the requirement to obtain a certificate of survey for the vessel and comply with any conditions; and,
  • complying with the general safety duties, including implementing and maintaining a safety management system (SMS) for the your vessel.

Exemption 04 cannot be used to take a domestic commercial vessel overseas or to another location.

Go to Exemption 04 https://www.amsa.gov.au/vessels-operators/regulations-and-standards-vessels/exemption-4-marine-safety-recreational-use

Government Announces Increase in Transition Funding to New Safety System

The Deputy Prime Minister has released a policy statement on transition arrangements for the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety. Go to media statement.

In response to industry feedback, the Australian Government will provide an additional $10 million funding for the national system, increasing the total contribution to $65 million over ten years, and increasing total funding by all governments to $112.4 million.

This additional funding means no levy will be charged to industry for the first three years of service delivery under AMSA 2018/19 – 2010/21.

This will provide two more years for AMSA to engage with industry on a range of important matters including:

  • the most efficient and effective ways to deliver services to industry;
  • opportunities to reduce costs to industry without compromising safety; and,
  • ways to reduce administrative burden so industry can get on with the job.

A review of all costs and charges for the national system will be conducted in 2020-21. Levy legislation has been withdrawn from Parliament until after this review.

The review will consider the appropriateness of fees and charges for the national system in an informed manner, with the benefit of two years of nationally consistent data on the risk and effort required to implement the national system.

Fees for all certificate services commenced as planned on 1 July 2018.


AMSA Announces Two Tier Charging Scheme from July 2018

As a Commonwealth management agency AMSA applies a cost recovery model.

To assist industry understanding of the AMSA cost recovery levy model included within the announcement, AMSA has provided an information page on their website for owners and operators information. https://www.amsa.gov.au/vessels-operators/domestic-commercial-vessels/cost-recovery-levy-national-system.

AMSA has applied the cost recovery guidelines to their management activities and have settled on a two level fee structure:

  1. Fee-for-Service– these are costs paid for services that can be directly attributed (eg processing applications and issue or renewal of certificates for survey, operation or tickets). https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2018L00821
  2. Annual vessel levy– an annual levy will be charged per vessel to recover the costs that cannot be directly attributed to a specific activity. The levy rate will be calculated on a higher risk where:
  • A longer vessel will pay more;
  • A vessel operating further offshore will pay more;
  • A vessel carrying passengers will pay more.  

AMSA has published a table setting out a vessel annual levy for the first five (5) years commencing with a ‘zero levy’ in the first three years (2018/19 – 2020/21 inclusive) of the 10 years government subsidy/transition funding support announced in December 2017. Note: The annual services costs include an indicative 2.5% CPI increase for each year. The costs of administering the national system and the levy will be subject to a full financial review in 2020/21).


Survey regime changes from 1 July 2018—What you need to know 

AMSA has simplified the vessel survey regime reducing the frequency of surveys requiredwhere a vessel owner with a good safety and maintenance record and mitigates risk through other measures. This aims to create an environment whereby an operator implements a system to identify and manage problems with the vessel on a daily basis, rather than only at the time of periodic survey.

Vessels that perform poorly during survey or compliance monitoring activities could be moved into a higher survey frequency level.

The new system will also allow surveys to be more easily aligned with vessel maintenance to reduce cost of slipping a vessel and loss of fishing time. Under the proposed new requirements, periodic surveys may occur up to three months prior to and three months after the due date, providing a six month window.

From 1 July 2018, all domestic commercial vessels that are required to have a certificate of survey will need to be surveyed in accordance with the frequency and requirements in the new Marine Order 503.

How these changes affect you will vary depending on:

  • the type of vessel
  • whether you hold a current survey certificate
  • when your certificate for survey is due for renewal
  • if you have other approvals or exemptions in place. From late May AMSA has begun contacting vessel owners who hold a certificate of survey directly by mail to let you know what these changes mean for you.

AMSA will issue you with an updated schedule to your certificate that will outline your new survey frequency category and new survey dates.

AMSA will have the ability to increase survey frequency where it is evident that a vessel is not being maintained to the required standard. This will apply to all vessels, including vessels which have had their survey regimes grandfathered and non-survey vessels, and will enable AMSA to manage the risks of vessels which are outside the survey regime.

It will also allow AMSA to move vessels into annual survey, where appropriate. AMSA is aiming at inspecting ten percent of all vessels annually using port marine surveyors and marine inspectors as part of its existing inspection program.


Compulsory Carriage of Float-Free EPIRBs by January 2021

AMSA sought industry comment in late 2017 on proposed changes which, if made, would require the carriage of a float-free emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) on most domestic commercial vessels operating more than 2 nautical miles seaward from land.

The overwhelming number of submissions supported the proposed changes and the concept of mandating broader carriage of float-free EPIRBs. However, a number of concerns were raised about the additional costs for vessel owners, and also the appropriateness of mandating float-free EPIRBs on smaller vessels.

AMSA General Manager of Standards Brad Groves said float-free EPIRBs offer significant safety advantages for crew and passengers on vessels in distress.

If a vessel rapidly capsizes or sinks, the survival of the passengers and crew depends on the transmission of a distress signal.” Mr Groves said. “A float-free auto-activating EPIRB can send a call for help within minutes of being submerged in water, without any action by the crew.”

Mr Groves said AMSA is giving industry a two-year transition period to plan for the added cost of fitting a float-free EPIRB, but encouraged owners to fit one to their vessel as soon as possible.

AMSA has amended standards to require the following vessels to carry a float-free EPIRB:

–     all fishing vessels (Class 3) equal to or greater than 12m in length and operate beyond 2 nautical miles seaward from land

–     all fishing vessels (Class 3) that are less than 12m in length operating in B or C waters but only if the vessel does not have level flotation. Vessels that are less than 12m with level flotation (and those vessels operating between 2 nautical miles out to ‘C waters’) can continue to carry the kind of EPIRB currently required and will not be affected by these changes, and

The revisions to NSCV Part C7B, Part G and Part F2 will commence on 1 January 2019 – however, a 24 month transitional periodhas been agreed for vessel owners to install a float free EPIRB meaning the new requirements will not become mandatory until 1 January 2021.

Operators who wish to start carrying a float-free EPIRB prior to this date are encouraged to do so.

 What about vessels less than 7.5 metres? 

AMSA understands that carriage of a float-free EPIRB on some smaller, open vessels may be challenging. Over the coming months, AMSA will be developing a general equivalent solution (GES) for vessels less than 7.5 metres in length affected by these changes. Vessel owners do not need to apply to use the general equivalent solution (GES).

Next steps

AMSA has published guidance to assist owners and operators of fishing vessels with the new requirements relating to float-free EPIRBS.

AMSA has a video on float free EPIBS at https://www.amsa.gov.au/news-community/news-and-media-releases/mandatory-float-free-epirbs

If you have any questions on these changes, Click Here.


AMSA Minimum Crewing Changes for Fishing Vessels

AMSA have changed crewing arrangements for Certificates of Operation (Marine Order 504).

The change will allow you to determine the minimum crewing required to operate your vessel if you believe that it would be safe to do so, after having conducted and documented an appropriate crewing evaluation.

The changes only apply to new vessels. Vessels operating under grandfathered crewing arrangements (pre July 2013) may choose to continue to operate with the same amount of crew they currently do. Temporary crewing permits will also be available on application.

This change is in line with the new management approach to move towards performance based rather than prescriptive regulation.

AMSA have developed new guidance materials on how to work out appropriate crewing and will support owners and masters in making sure they have the right people on board to manage the risks.

The arrangements for the new Marine Order 504 commenced on 1 July 2018.

More info go to: https://www.amsa.gov.au/news-community/news-and-media-releases/appropriate-crewing-your-operation-under-marine-order-504


AMSA Reviews Qualifications for Tickets for Skippers and Engineers.

On 1 July 2013, the new National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety commenced. The National System brought the eight State/Territory sets of rules together into one regulatory scheme based on nationally‐agreed standards for commercial vessels, including crew competency standards.

In 2014 AMSA established an Industry Reference Group (IRG) to review the competencies/qualifications standards (NSCV Part D) for skippers and engineers tickets for near coastal commercial vessels – including fishing vessels.

However in 2016, before the recommendations from the IRG process were implemented, AMSA decided to do a full assessment of the legislative and regulation base for all standards and marine orders. This assessment has now progressed to the point that AMSA can recommence the review of ‘competency standards’.

In August 2018 AMSA established the Near Coastal Qualifications Review Industry Reference Group (IRG) to provide a consultation forum to assist in the review of Marine Order 505 (Certificates of competency – national law) 2013 and the National Standard for Commercial Vessels Part D – Crew competencies.https://www.amsa.gov.au/qualifications-training/domestic-qualifications

AMSA expects to finalise the review process by Mid 2019.

The IRG membership consists of a small group of industry representatives, who cover the broad spectrum of near coastal commercial vessel operations. The fishing, pearling and aquaculture industry are represented by Heidi Mumme (WAFIC), Aaron Irving (National Aquaculture Council) and Tom Cosentino (Seafood Industry Australia).

The IRG is a reference group and has no decision making function. AMSA will consider the advice and views of the group but is not bound by their views.

The IRG met for the first time in Canberra in September 2018 to consider a range of policy and qualification issues raised by industry during broader marine safety consultations by AMSA over the past few years.

A discussion paper was to be released for a 3 month public consultation period in December 2018 but has been delayed until mid-2019.

Public comments will then be considered by the IRG and final recommendations forwarded to AMSA for final decisions later in 2019.

Any comments on competency/qualifications for skippers or engineers tickets can be forwarded to:

Sherri Ramsay, Senior Advisor, Seafarer Standards Click Here

WA Government Announces Diving Review

The State Government has announced Commission for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) will establish a Diving Working Group to make recommendations about safety measures for the occupational diving industry in WA.

The Diving Working Group’s terms of reference include:

  • Draft a Code of Practice for Occupational Diving for Western Australia inclusive of risk management principles which will apply to all occupational diving regardless of industry.
  • Detail specific diving industries guidelines in the code of practice;
  • recreational;
  • fishing;
  • pearling; and
  • any other area of diving considered relevant.

“The Commission working party will consult widely and extensively with the diving industry, relevant stakeholders and all interested parties to achieve safety across the broad range of diving business types’ said Minister for Commerce, Bill Johnson, “We seek leadership from the industry to determine a set of written practices that will promote safety and adhere to laws.’

“We are aiming for final outcomes that will be accountable, workable, productive and fully endorsed by divers and the diving industry”.

The Dive Working Group will consult with occupational diving industries, unions, relevant persons and experts on the structure and detail necessary to comprise a Western Australian Code of Practice for Occupational Diving.

WAFIC has co-ordinated industry representative nominations from the pearling, abalone and aquaculture sectors. Contact Aaron irving 


Coroners Findings on Loss of Fishing Vessel ‘Returner

The WA Coroners Court recently handed down its findings into the loss of the fishing vessel Returner in the Pilbara in July 2015 together with the three crew onboard.

The Returner was a refurbished prawn trawler (formerly the Freda Jess) operating in the Dampier/Port Hedland region. After receiving clearance from the marine safety authorities after the refurbishment the vessel travelled to the Pilbara and worked the fishing grounds for several weeks until it failed to reach port as scheduled on 15th July 2015. The last contact with the vessel was at 2am on 11th July 2015.

The inquest canvassed the reasons why the Returner sank, focusing upon the refurbishment of the Returner by Mr Turner, as well as the possible contributing environmental factors. There was evidence to the Coroner that the overall effect of these extensive modifications was to make the vessel less stable in the water. There was also evidence that the vessel was small for its purpose and cluttered, making it difficult to move about on the deck.

The refurbishment commenced without notifying the DoT, contrary to the DoT procedure, and did not, on the evidence, engage a naval architect or consult a shipwright in regard to the works. The owner appeared to have relied upon his own judgment as to what was required albeit with an understanding that the vessel would also undergo some form of survey through the DoT when the works were completed. Ballast was removed from the vessel but the evidence was that this fact was not passed on to the authorities at the time of formal survey.

The vessel underwent two survey processes – one for the insurance company and one by the Department of Transport WA (DoT) under the delegation of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). The Coroner noted as significant the fact that if the vessel had been treated as a ‘new vessel’, then one part of the requirements of a renewal survey is for a lightship verification (stability test) to be undertaken via draft or weight check, re-incline or roll period test, as appropriate for the vessel. However, because it was a ‘grandfathered’ vessel it did not require lightship verification to be performed.

The Coroner noted that an existing vessel can be considered a ‘new vessel’ if authorities consider that the vessel changes its operations, is significantly modified and seeks to move its geographic area of operation. Any recent modifications to a vessel should be advised by the owner of the vessel by lodging notification of the modifications with the DoT. Evidence highlighted that the removal of the ballast was not included as a modification by the owner of the Returner. The Coroner also noted that it appeared more likely than not that the owner was not truthful about the fuel tanks being full at the time the surveyor conducted his vessel freeboard check. The DoT surveyor treated the Returner as an ‘existing vessel’ for survey renewal purposes and no stability test was ordered.

The inquest was advised that the cost of an incline test was estimated to be in the vicinity of at least $8,000 – $10,000 for a vessel like the Returner, and if it failed the test there would likely be costs incurred to rectify the deficiencies.

The surveyor accepted that he could have done more to verify the works that had been disclosed, but there was nothing that raised his suspicions at the time to suggest he was not being truthfully told the full extent of works being done.

Modelling carried out after the salvage of the vessel demonstrated that the modifications that had been made to the vessel had dramatically, and detrimentally, altered its stability. It was stated that the Returner was, on average, 35% more unstable at the time that it sank than in its original configuration.

Wind and wave data taken on the night of the vessel loss showed conditions were quite benign up to midnight and then there was a rapid increase in wind speed between 12.30 am and 1.30 am and a corresponding spike in wave height recorded at 1.42 am with a maximum at 2.7m.

The freeing port cut outs on the Returner were found to have been covered by stiff rubber flaps that were not capable of opening to allow the unrestricted flow of water from the weather deck.

Questions were also raised as to why the Department of Fisheries had not raised the alarm when they lost contact with the Returner through their vessel monitoring system.

The findings recommendations were:

  • AMSA should include mandatory requirements all vessels to carry float free EPIRBs that deploy automatically when immersed in water
  • AMSA and Worksafe WA should promote and encourage the wearing of life jackets while working on commercial fishing vessels
  • AMSA commence transition to the removal of the ‘grandfathering’ policy of safety standards for existing vessels. Compliance with current standards in regard to vessel operations and safety equipment should be given priority
  • AMSA ensure accredited surveyors are reminded of the importance of independently verifying key information when assessing a vessel’s stability.
  • Department of Fisheries to guide staff managing the Vessel Monitoring System as an important secondary safety aspect to prioritise communicating with a vessel that has issued an LAC alert that cannot be resolved
  • Where Fisheries VMS staff are unsuccessful in contacting the vessel or ascertaining its whereabouts within 4 hours of they should notify Water Police
  • Fisheries should consider ways in which the VMS can be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and if a practical means can be found, they should be resourced accordingly.

The summary and full report can be found at:




Purpose: The revised exemptions address issues identified with the administration of the current exemptions and in response to industry enquires and concerns.

  • Exemption EX06 (Extensions of time for periodic survey & equipment certification)
  • Exemption EX07 (Temporary operations)

What are the key elements of the amendments?

  1. Exemption EX06

Will allow for an application for an extension of time for periodic survey and equipment certification to be made:

  • in the 90 days before or after the due date of the survey or inspection; and
  • in the 90 days before or after or the date of the expiry of the equipment certificate of currency.
  1. Exemption EX07
  • allow for accredited marine surveyors (or other persons permitted under MO503) to conduct surveys to approve temporary operations for sea trials;
  • allow for accredited marine surveyors AMS to approve temporary operations after a periodic survey where minor non-conformances that do not jeopardise safety have been identified.  This will permit operation while the minor non-conformances are being rectified;
  • allow for accredited marine surveyors to approve temporary operations after a renewal survey, including where non-conformances that do not jeopardise safety have been identified. This will permit operation while an application for a further certificate of survey is being decided;
  • providing for a limited extension of time to finalise the out of water component of a renewal survey after the certificate has expired and all other components of the renewal survey have been completed; and
  • broadening the circumstances where AMSA may approve operation without certificates.

You can find Exemption 06 @ https://www.amsa.gov.au/exemption-6-marine-safety-periodic-survey-equipment-certification-and-compass-adjustment-2018

You can find Exemption 07 @ https://www.amsa.gov.au/exemption-7-marine-safety-temporary-operations-2018-effective-1-april-2018


AMSA Takeover National Marine Safety Management from 1st July 2018

From 1stJuly 2018, the Australian Marine Safety Management Authority (AMSA) will takeover sole responsibility for marine management of commercial vessels in Australia, including all fishing vessels.

AMSA has several communications options for vessel owners, skipper or crew.

Access services online – www.amsa.gov.auhas a variety of new features and information. From July 2018 you’ll be able to transact online at a time that suits you. Find self-service tools and resources to help keep you up to date with your safety obligations.

Talk to a Person – AMSA Connect(1800 627 484)– operators will be available from
8am to 5pm (Western Standard Time) so you can talk to one of their highly skilled customer service team when you need to. They will answer most of your
questions on the spot or refer you to AMSA’s technical operators for more complex questions.

They will also guide you through application processes, take payments, and book assessments for tickets.

Visit in person – Regional services will be available from one of 19 AMSA offices around Australia. Staff will be on hand to give you technical advice and assist you with your safety management systems. They’ll also conduct higher-level assessments and perform compliance and enforcement activities.

 WA: Tel 08 9430 2100 / Level 3, No.3 Cantonment Street, Fremantle WA 6959

 To understand how to access your historical records from the WA Department of Transport (Marine) go to: https://www.amsa.gov.au/vessels-operators/transition-national-system/western-australia-changes-domestic-commercial-vessel

Guidance materials and fact sheets on what you need to do for your vessels CLICK HERE


Safety Management Systems Required on All Vessels by 1st July 2016

All fishing vessels in Australia will require a formal Safety Management System (SMS) under both workplace and marine safety legislation across the nation from 1st July 2016.

What is a safety management system and why do I need one? Follow this link to find out. CLICK HERE

A sample safety management system (SMS) for a fishing vessel can be found here

You Must have Your Vessel’s Stability Documentation – What Happens If NOT!!

From July 2017, marine safety services are to be delivered across the nation by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). The WA Department of Transport DoT(WA) will no longer be conducting vessel surveys.

Under the new national marine safety laws – National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) – it is a requirement that stability documentation is on-board a vessel.

The stability documentation must reflect the current configuration of the vessel and be consistent with the class and operation of the vessel.

Survey checklists to be used by official vessel surveyors will contain a specific requirement to check if appropriate vessel stability documentation is on-board.

DoT(WA) has identified that there may be issues in the future that where stability data is not available on-board, the accredited marine surveyor may not be in a position to finalise a periodic survey and this may stop a vessel going to sea.

So what to do if you do not have stability documentation on-board your vessel?

  • Check your records ashore for the vessel’s stability documentation
  • Check with any previous owners to obtain a copy of the stability documentation
  • Check with the vessel’s builder/designer for a copy of the stability documentation

If the owner is able to obtain the documentation this way the owner must check that the stability documentation fits the vessel’s current configuration – layout, loading and fishing operations. If the stability documentation is correct the owner must ensure that the documentation is retained on-board.

If you are unable to obtain stability documentation for your vessel, DoT(WA) has agreed to provide vessel owners with stability documentation for their vessel between now and 1st July 2017. After this date access to vessel files and historical data will not be as easily accessible by authorities. It is important to stress that any information provided by DoT WA would only represent the stability information as of the date of any approval held on file.

It is the responsibility of the owner/operator to ensure that approved stability information is carried on-board and is relevant for the vessel’s configuration.

During annual surveys from now until July 2017, vessels will be checked for current stability documentation. Where no documentation is provided DoT(WA) will offer advice to owners/skippers on how to go about obtaining the required data as follows:

  • Owners should contact DoT WA Commercial Vessel Safety Branch for assistance. DoT WA will check the vessel files for any stability documentation.
  • If a copy is held on file, which is often the case, DoT WA will advise the owner and:
    • If the documentation is subject to Intellectual Property (IP) restrictions (e.g. the documentation has been produced by an existing shipbuilder, designer or marine consultant) the owner will be advised of the contact details;
    • The vessel owner will need to obtain written confirmation from the IP holder to allow release of the documentation by DoT(WA);
    • Once DoT(WA) receive a release authorisation from the IP holder, an electronic copy of the documentation will be made available to the vessel owner; and
    • If the documentation is not subject to Intellectual Property restrictions an electronic copy of the documentation will be made available to the owner.

DoT(WA) will not charge a fee for the provision of an electronic copy of your vessel’s stability documentation.

There will be cases where DoT WA does not have stability documentation on file, such as in the case of a vessel that has transferred to WA from other States. The vessel owner will need to obtain the required stability documentation from the relevant IP holder or state marine authority.

Where stability documentation for the vessel cannot be acquired at all, or the stability information obtained no longer reflects the vessels current arrangement, layout, loading and operations, the owner will be required to have appropriate stability documentation prepared and approved by an AMSA accredited marine surveyor.

Note: In the past in WA, certain types of Class 3 commercial fishing vessels were exempt from requiring stability documentation. The exemption from having to hold stability documentation for these commercial vessels will continue so long as they still meet the conditions of the exemption.

For further assistance please contact:

Commercial Vessel Safety Branch, Department of Transport (WA), Address: 1 Essex Street, Fremantle, WA, 6160

Tel: 1300 723 226 / (08) 9435 7601  Email: CVS.boats@transport.wa.gov.au

How does ‘Grandfathering’ Work for your Vessel?

AMSA have released a Fact Sheet to guide vessel owners on the survey arrangements for vessels that have received ‘grandfather’ status from the time the National Marine Safety System was introduced in 2013. Click Here

Grandfathering arrangements allow existing vessels to continue operating under the survey requirements that existed before the introduction of the National System ONLY WHERE the vessel has not been significantly modified or stability affected by equipment additions.

If this is the case the standards that applied to the vessel when the WA Certificate of Survey (CoS) was last issued prior to 2013 will continue to apply. The vessel owner does not have to upgrade the vessel or its equipment to meet the ‘new National System standards’ and the vessel is able to continue being surveyed in accordance with the survey requirements that applied under the WA Certificate of Survey.

If a ‘grandfathered’ vessel is due for a new CoS issued under the new national Marine Safety System he owner will need to contact an accredited marine surveyor to assess whether the vessel still meets the requirements that applied to it before 1 July 2013.

How to Operate a Commercial Fishing Vessel ‘Recreationally’

Previously you had to apply to the authorities to gain permission.

AMSA ‘Exemption 04’ lets a person operate a commercial fishing vessel recreationally by exempting it from National Law limits on crewing and operating areas.

  • If the vessel is less than 12m long there is no need to apply but you must comply with the conditions of Exemption 04 which applies automatically
  • If the vessel is longer than 12m you must apply to the authorities. Once approved, you must comply with the conditions of Exemption 04.

A copy of Exemption 04 is available at: AMSA Website

Information on how to apply to operate a vessel longer than 12m ‘recreationally’ is at AMSA Website

Areas specified as Restricted C operational areas

AMSA has a advisory notes that provides details of the areas nominated by the state and Northern Territory jurisdictions as Restricted C operational areas as they apply to Exemption 40.

Exemption 40 provides an exemption from the requirement to have a Certificate of Survey for non-passenger or fishing vessels that:

  • are less than 12 metres long;
  • operate only in the C restricted operation areas nominated (see note below);
  • any operational area D (partially smooth water operations); or,
  • any operational area E (smooth water operations).

The exemption is subject to the vessel meeting specified operational, design and construction requirements, which are specified as conditions of the exemption. Restricted C vessels require an inspection by an attested person and are required to be re-inspected every five years to ensure continuing compliance with Exemption 40.

Note: The areas nominated by the states and Northern Territory as Restricted C operational areas are summarised at in the tables found at: AMSA Website

New AMSA Accredited Vessel Surveyors

AMSA introduced the Surveyor Accreditation Scheme (the scheme) on 2 January 2015.

This system allows both private and government surveyors.

If your vessel requires survey to make sure it meets safety requirements, it is up to you to select an AMSA-accredited surveyor (surveyors accredited under the Surveyor Accreditation Scheme). Go to: AMSA Website

You can select any accredited surveyor in the scheme within the limit of the categories that the surveyor is accredited for, and any limitations that may be applied to their accreditation.

For example of a surveyor’s limitation may be a particular construction material (ie they can survey steel and aluminum vessels, but not timber or reinforced plastic vessels).

As at 22 April 2016, there were accredited surveyors in WA.

You can find a list of accredited surveyors on the AMSA website, along with each surveyor’s contact details, the categories that they are accredited for, and the area in which they operate. Go to New AMSA Accredited Vessel Surveyors: AMSA Website

AMSA’s My Boat application

AMSA has released ‘My Boat’ – an online application developed to help industry understand and comply with vessel survey requirements. It’s free.

Based on the National Standards for Commercial Vessels, Marine Orders and National Law exemptions, you only need to put in the details of your vessel and My Boat will produce results specific to you.

AMSA encourages vessel owners and operators sign up as a member and use the available tools at CLICK HERE


Standing Exemptions: Changes and Extensions

AMSA has recently made changes to a number of standing exemptions that may apply to commercial fishing vessels. Standing exemptions are an important part of AMSA’s initiative to ensure its regulations are relevant, flexible and risk-based.

AMSA has recently made changes to a number of standing exemptions forms, guidance notices and advisories that may apply to commercial fishing vessels. Standing exemptions are an important part of AMSA’s initiative to ensure its regulations are relevant, flexible and risk-based. CLICK HERE

AMSA Guidance materials

AMSA provides a range of guidance notes, advisory sheets, fact sheets and the myriad forms required to apply for various activities or services. Click Here


1. Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) 

AMSA is responsible the safety of vessels and the seafarers operating in the domestic commercial industry. State and Territory marine safety agencies act as delegates of AMSA and are responsible for the face-to-face operations of the National System. Click here for more information.

What are the laws governing all Australia commercial fishing vessels? Click here.

AMSA Connect                       1800 627 484 – Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm (across Australia)
AMSA website                        amsa.gov.au/transition-national-system-domestic-commercial-vessel
Email                                       enquiries@amsa.gov.au
Follow us                                Facebook.com/AustralianMaritimeSafetyAuthority
Subscribe for updates           Subscribe to our mailing list

2. Australian Marine Safety Authority – Communication with Industry

AMSA have several information publications available for industry. For more information.

3. Guidance Notices for Owners and Skippers

AMSA has developed a range of guidance notices for owners and skippers to better understand how to implement the new national maritime safety regulations.

These can be found here

4. Useful Links on AMSA Website

Domestic Commercial Vessel Section – http://www.amsa.gov.au/domestic

Consultation with Industry – http://www.amsa.gov.au/community/consultation

AMSA Twitter – @AMSA_News

AMSA Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/AustralianMaritimeSafetyAuthority

5. Useful Contacts at AMSA

AMSA WA Liaison Officer – Chris Battel – email: chris.battel@amsa.gov.au  mob: 0437 788 291

AMSA Contact Centre – (02) 6279 5000 (Canberra)

Feedback to AMSA on National System – Email


 1. Worksafe WA manages Workplace Safety in WA

WorkSafe is a division of the Department of Commerce and its role is regulation of workplace safety and health in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (the OSH Act). The principal objective of OSH laws is to promote and secure the safety and health of people in the workplace. Click here for details.

2. WA Workplace Legislation and Regulations

Workplace safety in WA is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984. Click here.

3. Man Overboard Code of Practice

The code is a guideline outlining ways in which to address the risks associated with accidental falls from commercial fishing vessels, and covers both the prevention of falls and the emergency responses if a man overboard incident occurs. Details can be found here.

4. Safe Work Australia

The Commonwealth and all State governments have agreed to enter a collaborative and consultative process for developing greater consistency in work health and safety regulations (known as ‘harmonization’). Details here.

SafeWork Australia was established to lead the development of this national policy to improve work health and safety and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia.

SafeWork Australia has primary responsibility to lead the development of policy and ‘model laws’ to improve work health and safety and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia.

As a national policy body Safe Work Australia does not regulate work health and safety laws. Individual State governments retain responsibility for regulating and enforcing work health and safety laws in their jurisdiction.