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.

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.

For more information go to: Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) 

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

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’)

For more information go to: Worksafe WA – http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe

WAFIC_17 copy

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 everything has 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?



The 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 safety 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?

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.

For more information: https://www.amsa.gov.au/vessels-operators/domestic-commercial-vessels/safety-management-systems

2. Carryout Regular Emergency Procedures Drills with your Crew

Your Safety Management System (SMS) should describe how to manage all these emergency situations BUT you 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.



Public Consultation: AMSA Proposal for Mandatory Wearing of Lifejackets

AMSA has released an options paper for consultation containing proposals to mandate wearing of lifejackets for domestic commercial vessels.

AMSA is seeking your feedback on this by 17 December 2021.

A discussion paper can be found at: www.amsa.gov.au/lifejackets

The discussion paper contains three options for industry consideration:

Option 1

Mandate lifejacket wear requirements on all domestic commercial vessels at all timeswhen on deck.

Option 2

Mandate lifejacket wear at all times on the following vessels:

·       vessels less than 7.5 m in length

·       vessels with only one person on board

·       fishing vessels of any length

·       unpowered barges that do not have rails or means to prevent a person falling overboard.

Plus – all domestic commercial vessel operators will also need to have a documented risk assessment and procedure on lifejacket wear in their safety management system.

Option 3

Continue with lifejacket carriage requirements and do not introduce lifejacket wear requirements, however, all vessels must have a documented risk assessment and procedure on lifejacket wear in their safety management system.

In 2020 alone, there were four fatalities, all involving a crew member going overboard. Three crew fatalities occurred on fishing vessels and involved (1) a solo operator, (2) a crew member working over the side and (3)a small tender vessel. The fourth fatality occurred on a charter vessel (class 2) and involved a person being knocked overboard by a sailing boom. In all these incidents none of the people who lost their life were wearing a lifejacket.

A number of Coroners have recommended that consideration be given to introducing mandatory lifejacket wear requirements for some commercial vessel operations, particularly in the fishing sector, and otherwise emphasised the importance of wearing a lifejacket. Many of these have occurred during adverse weather conditions, single-handed operation, or high-risk operations such as trawling.

Depending on the type of operation, wearing a lifejacket can sometimes be perceived as an additional risk. In the lifejacket trial conducted by AMSA, many fishers felt that wearing a lifejacket added increased risk due to the possibility of lifejackets becoming hooked up with other equipment on the vessel such as nets.

Another key concern amongst participants was the possibility of accidental inflation of the lifejackets. The potential of this occurring in an enclosed space or under a vessel during a rollover situation could be life-threatening due to the chance of becoming trapped and drowning. For this reason, wearing an inflatable lifejacket in an enclosed space is not advised.

Make an online submission. Go to link: https://www.amsa.gov.au/consultation/lifejackets-domestic-commercial-vessels

Email AMSA: consultation@amsa.gov.au

Call: 1800 627 484 (within Australia) or +61 2 6279 5000 (outside Australia)

Mail: AMSA Consultation, GPO Box 2181, Canberra ACT, 2601

For any general enquiries about the consultation, please don’t hesitate to contact AMSA Connect on 1800 627 484 or +61 2 6279 5000 (outside Australia).

Feedback period closes 17 December 2021.


Worksafe WA – Work Ceases on Draft Diving Code of Practice for WA.

The Worksafe Commission recently released their June 2021 meeting minutes. Link: https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/commission-occupational-safety-and-health-minutes

Interesting to note was that the Commission has ceased work on developing a stand-alone Occupational Diving Code of Practice for WA.


  • 2008 – all governments in Australia agreed to establish a national ‘model set’ of workplace safety regulations (including diving) that each state would incorporate in their new WHS legislation introduced over time.
  • 2013 – in the lead up to the state election the ALP announced they would be introducing a stand-alone occupational diving code of practice in WA
  • 2016 – the WA Worksafe Commission established an Occupational Diving CoP Working Group including representation from the fishing and pearling industries.
  • 2020 (May) – a draft CoP was released for public comment. Submissions were sought from the public and WAFIC co-ordinated an industry response.
  • Since May 2020 – there has been no progress on the draft CoP by the Worksafe Commission.
  • Late 2020 – McGowan government introduced new WA WHS legislation thus triggering take-up of the national ‘model set’ of workplace safety regulations (including diving).
  • June 2021 – Worksafe Commission decide that a stand-alone WA Occupational Diving CoP would duplicate (and be less effective) than the diving content in the national ‘model set’ of workplace safety regulations (including diving) to be included in the new WA WHS legislation. Commission also referred to existing Australian Standards for Occupational Diving.
  • June 2021 – Worksafe Commission ceases work on the draft CoP and will concentrate on developing guidance materials for the WA occupational diving sectors in line with the national ‘model set’ of workplace safety regulations (including diving).

National ‘Model set’ of workplace safety regulations

  • WAFIC and Pearl Producers Association were actively involved in the development of the diving section of the ‘model set’ of workplace safety regulations (Part 4.8) managed through SafeWork Australia.
  • The issue for the fishing and pearling industries will turn on the definitions of general diving work and high risk diving work in the model regulations.
  • WAFIC and PPA are of the view that the diving requirements in these national ‘model set’ of workplace safety regulations are practical and effective for our industries.

Find the ‘model set’ of workplace safety regulations is for your information (Part 4.8 – Diving Work, page 131) at: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/resources-publications/legislation

WAFIC has written to the Worksafe Commissioner to seek a meeting to discuss how the national ‘model set’ of workplace safety regulations (including diving) will be incorporated into the new WA WHS legislation regulations.

Tanya Adams Wins WAFIC Safety Award 2021

At the gala event held in August, fishing industry stalwart, Tanya Adams, was a very popular winner of the 2021 WAFIC Safety Award sponsored by Sea Harvest Pty Ltd.

Tanya is well known to many in the fishing industry in WA and across Australia for her tireless work assisting industry establish it’s credentials under the various (and ever changing) marine and workplace safety regulations.

In 1989 new workplace safety legislation came into being in WA. This was the first time ‘workplace safety’ regulations were introduced. The fishing industry had never heard of this having always understood safety to be under the control of the Department for Transport through issue of vessel survey certificates and skippers tickets.

Unfortunately industry suffered several tragic losses of life in the late 80s and early 90s placing a significant spotlight on workplace safety on fishing vessels.

Industry was given two choices – sort it out yourself or let government sort you out. The WAFIC Board at the time chose to put workplace safety into industry’s hands and embarked on the process of establishing an industry wide health and safety approach. Tanya Adams was engaged as our WHS advisor to develop an industry code and guidelines and take the message out to industry and educate them. She has never stopped.

Tanya is incredibly passionate about WHS, an extremely hard worker and great communicator. Many in industry will recall her endless travels along the coast during the 1990’s as she visited every ‘nook and cranny’ of our industry to speak to fishers face-to-face. Fishers instantly warmed to her enthusiasm and practical approach to applying workplace safety into the fishing environment. Within three years Worksafe was actively endorsing the WAFIC Code and the plethora of support materials as the standard tools for industry to adopt to meet the regulations. Most of that Code and support materials remain applicable in today’s sophisticated WHS world.

Tanya’s success was extended through who engagement to deliver a national WHS programme and her experience and results became well known throughout the fishing industry in Australia. She is currently managing a new national FRDC safety initiative to update industry WHS processes to deal with changes in technology, research outcomes and new legislative requirements. https://www.frdc.com.au/issues/workplace-health-and-safety-in-fisheries-and-aquaculture

John Atkinson from the MG Kailis Group marvels at Tanya’s ability to seek first to understand, then to be understood a trait characterised when she was first engaged in the mid 1990’s, to review their existing occupational health and safety systems and recommend strategies to bring them into line with the legislative standards of the day.

With her direct, yet affable and outgoing nature, Tanya did a deep dive into Kailis’ OHS systems across their business – Exmouth prawn trawl, Fremantle marine engineering, Dongara lobster, Broome pearling and Port Lincoln tuna farming.

The professional policies, procedures and systems that Tanya helped Kailis put into place in 2006 have largely remained unchanged providing the basis to their current day Vessel Safety Management Systems, ISO: 45001 accreditation and Fit For Work: Drug and Alcohol testing regime. John argues that Tanya’s legacy is reflected in MG Kailis’ safety record and strong ongoing commitment to the health safety and welfare of all their employees, contractors and fishers.

Contact Tanya Adams, Taylored Health and Safety, M: 0417 961 973 / E: tayloredhealth@iinet.net.au

Simplified Safety Equipment Rules – Small Inshore Fishing Vessel Operations   

Following feedback from fishing vessel operators that the safety equipment requirements for small fishing vessels operating close to land do not reflect the risks of their operations and are impractical to apply, AMSA has simplifies the safety equipment lists.

WAFIC submitted a comprehensive submission in conjunction with the Southern Seafood Producers (WA) promoting safety equipment requirements in line with agreements reached with the Department of Transport (WA) in 2013.

Consultation feedback received by AMSA is available at: https://www.amsa.gov.au/consultation-feedback-report-simplified-equipment-lists-small-fishing-vessels

AMSA has created new equipment lists for non-survey vessels that are less than 12 metres long, work close to land and operate either under Exemption 2 (certificates of survey) or Exemption 40 (class C restricted operations).

The NEW safety equipment requirements apply to two different groups of vessel operations.

  1. Non-survey vessels operating in warms waters (defined as North of Coral Bay – latitude 23.5º South) and within 2 nautical miles of land;
  2. Non-survey beach fishing vessels operating within 200 metres of land (If you transit beyond 200 metres of land to reach your operational area this equipment list is not applicable to your vessel).

Detailed information on lists and operating arrangements can be found at the following links:

  1. Warm waters vessels– https://www.amsa.gov.au/new-safety-equipment-lists/non-survey-fishing-vessels-operating-warm-waters-and-within-2-nautical 
  2. Beach fishing vessels– https://www.amsa.gov.au/new-safety-equipment-lists/non-survey-beach-fishery-vessels-operating-anywhere-australia

If you operate under these conditions you don’t need to apply to AMSA to use the equipment lists. Simply make sure you carry all the equipment now required.

Should you need to contact AMSA call Chris Battel, Liaison Manager (WA) 0437 788 291 / chris.battel@AMSA.gov.au or AMSA Connect 1800 627 484


Engine international air pollution prevention (EIAPP) certificates

International marine agreements (Tier of Regulation 13 of MARPOL Annex VI) require evidence to show that a vessel with engine >130Kw must meet the relevant nitrogen oxides (NOx) emission limit.

Availability of this evidence for existing vessel engines has proved extremely difficult.

AMSA is developing a short-term approach that will provide an exemption to allow acceptance of alternative documents in lieu of an EIAPP certificate to allow a vessel to receive a certificate of survey.

These arrangements will remain until Marine Order 97 is updated to require manufacturers and suppliers to provide the EIAPP certificate at the time of engine purchase.

Long-term (from mid-December 2021) new engine installations and non-identical engine replacements or modified engines will require carriage of EIAPP certificate and the associated technical file.

AMSA will communicate this outcome through guidance materials.


AMSA to Focus Inspections of Float-Free EPIRBs from 1st February 2021

 AMSA will undertake a focused inspection campaign on float-free EPIRB requirements on domestic commercial vessels over the period 1 February to 30 April 2021.

The inspections will focus on the mandatory float-free EPIRB carriage requirements implemented from 1st January 2021. (Click here: Find out if the new laws apply to you, more about the use and installation of float-free EPIRBs and how they automatically deploy at certain depths).

Note: These requirements apply to new, existing (grandfathered), and transitional vessels.

Vessel length and flotation
When operating >2nm from land

EPIRB type required


Any waters Float-Free
<12m with level flotation

Any waters Any that meet AS/NZS 4280.1

≥7.5m to <12m

without level flotation

B or C waters


D or E waters



Any that meet AS/NZS 4280.1


<7.5m without level flotation

B or C waters






D or E waters

Option 1) Float-free


Option 2) If all persons on board are wearing a lifejacket – a GNSS equipped, EPIRB that meets AS/NZS 4280.1

Any that meet AS/NZS 4280.1


These requirements including those operating under the following exemptions:

  1. Exemption 02 Marine Safety (Certificates of survey)
  2. Exemption 40 Marine Safety (Class C restricted operations)

Non-survey vessels of class 2C, 3C and 4C operating more than two nautical miles from land are required to carry a float-free EPIRB as shown below:

(a) vessels ≥12 m long

(b) vessels ≥7.5 m to <12 m long that do not meet level flotation criteria

(c) vessels <7.5 m that do not meet level flotation criteria, unless all persons on the vessel are wearing a lifejacket and the EPIRB is GNSS equipped.

Useful links:

How does a float-free EPIRB work? See video at https://amsa.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=0f52b1855bcb10870c21308b3&id=ca20fc0705&e=e47419ae50

Use and installation of float-free EPIRB: https://amsa.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=0f52b1855bcb10870c21308b3&id=664bbcefc1&e=e47419ae50

 More information go to: https://www.amsa.gov.au/safety-navigation/distress-beacons/epirb-requirements-find-out-what-changes-mean-your-dcv-operation

Compulsory Carriage of Float-Free EPIRBs FROM 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.

‘Proof of Order or Purchase’ Accepted to Comply with Mandatory ‘Float-free EPIRB’ – Required from 1 January 2021

AMSA has advised that due to the shortage of ‘float-free EPIRBs’ in stock across Australia they will be accepting evidence of ‘proof or order or purchase’ from a registered supplier as compliance with the new rule.

You must carry this ‘proof of order or purchase’ on-board your vessel.

From 1 January 2021, certain commercial vessels will be required to have a float-free EPIRB installed.

AMSA has a diagram that will assist operators with how this requirement impacts their vessel.

Go to: https://www.amsa.gov.au/safety-navigation/distress-beacons/float-free-epirbs-resources

For assistance in sourcing a float-free EPIRB contact the supplier for details of stock:

  • ACR – AMI Sales, 08 9331 0000 / www.amisales.com.au
  • CETC – Great Circle Marine Pty Ltd, 07 3343 8384
  • GME – 1300 463 463 / www.gme.net.au
  • Jotron – Taylor Marine, 08 9494 9393 / www.taylormarine.com.au
  • Ocean Signal – All Sat Communications, 1300 747587 / www.allsat.com.au

A registered EPIRB allows AMSA to phone your nominated emergency contacts, look up important information about your vessel and to initiate a search response as soon as possible. To register your EPIRB: https://beacons.amsa.gov.au/

Vessels less than 7.5m in length have the option to carry a GPS-equipped, manual or water-activated EPIRB in a manual bracket, instead of carrying a float-free EPIRB. If you choose this option, all persons on board MUST wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD).

Vessels less than 12m in length, without level flotation, and operating in D and E waters will not be affected by the changes. All vessels less than 12m with level flotation can continue to carry the kind of EPIRB currently required regardless of where they operate.

Find out if the new laws apply to you, more about the use and installation of float-free EPIRBs and how they automatically deploy at certain depths.

How does a float-free EPIRB work? See video at https://amsa.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=0f52b1855bcb10870c21308b3&id=ca20fc0705&e=e47419ae50

Use and installation of float-free EPIRB: https://amsa.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=0f52b1855bcb10870c21308b3&id=664bbcefc1&e=e47419ae50

More information go to: https://www.amsa.gov.au/safety-navigation/distress-beacons/epirb-requirements-find-out-what-changes-mean-your-dcv-operation


Why Do You Need to Do Safety Training on a Fishing Vessel?

Recent changes to marine safety and workplace safety rules place a greater focus on owners of fishing vessels to develop safety management plans for the vessel operations.

These new rules also require owners to demonstrate that they have trained their skippers and crew to understand and implement that safety management plan on the fishing vessel.

To learn all about the changes read the other articles on this WAFIC Safety and Training website page.

This page has links below to the two government agencies that cover fishing vessels:

  • Marine vessel safety – Australian Maritime Safety Authority
  • Workplace safety – Worksafe WA

Under both sets of rules there is a list of actions an owner must do before a vessel goes to sea:

  • Ensure vessel meets survey requirements and the skipper has the correct tickets to drive that vessel.
  • Go around the vessel and spot all the hazards of the fishing operation (eg. winches, ropes, hooks, netdrums, confined spaces, working heights, man overboard, fire, sinking vessel, poor ocean conditions, knives, coming alongside, refuelling and using chemicals).
  • Work out the level of risk associated with each hazard – high, medium or low.
  • Work out how best to minimise the risk of that hazard impacting the crew (eg. covers on winches, rope coil bins, harness when working at heights, lifejackets and harness in poor weather, buddy system when entering confined spaces, agreed action plan for man overboard.
  • You should document each hazard, the assessed risk level and the process you have developed to manage that hazard. This is your safety management system. For help go to: http://fishsafeaustralia.com.au/sms-templates
  • Assess the compliance of your safety management system (plan).

Go to link: http://fishsafeaustralia.com.au/sms-compliance

  • Train your crew on how each hazard will be managed – especially emergency procedures for man overboard, fire or abandon ship.
  • Carryout regular practice drills during the season on emergency procedures for man overboard, fire or abandon ship.
  • Carryout practice drills for emergency procedures as soon as a new crew member joins the vessel (no matter how experienced they might be).
  • You should document all training and practice drills and require skippers and crew to sign off that they have completed all the training and practice drills.


What is Safety Training for a Fishing Vessel?

 Training your crew in the safety procedures on your vessel is no different to how you train them to retrieve and set a pot or trap, handle a lobster to maximise quality, prepare the trawl net for fishing or fillet a fish to maximise recovery.

Safety training requires you to work with your crew to help them:

  • to understand the fishing operations on your vessel,
  • to accept that there are hazards that are around them while working on the boat,
  • to acknowledge there is a range of risks in what they are doing at any time, and
  • to train (through demonstration and practice) in the way you want them to work in each situation aboard your vessel.

In most cases safety training is common sense and most vessel owners have been doing this training for many crew over many years.

What is important now is for you to take a little more time to formalise your training:

  • document what specific approach you have decided upon to manage a hazardous activity (eg. how will crew operate the pot winch)
  • document how you are going to train your crew to do that activity safely (demonstrate preferred operation, start with slow winch speed, stop and explain at critical moments to elaborate on important points, oversee practice)
  • document when you have trained them and get them to sign off they have done it (enter in vessel log and crew sign as well/provide crew a safety training book)

Formal pre-sea training is also available at Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) such as TAFE or an independent training or work health and safety business. For example:

  • Elements of Shipboard Safety
  • General Purpose Hand (Deckhand).

Some RTOs may provide vessel specific or group training in regional ports.

Online courses are also available: SeSafe – http://fishsafeaustralia.com.au/safety-training.


The McGowan Government’s Work Health and Safety (WHS) Bill passed the Legislative Assembly on November 3, 2020 and will become law once the supporting regulations are finalised next year.

The new laws cover modern employment relationships, such as subcontractors or casual workers, not just the classic employer/employee relationship. In particular, they will introduce the term ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’.

The new legislation includes criminalising ‘industrial manslaughter’ that includes a maximum penalty of between five and 20 years of imprisonment for an individual and a maximum $10 million fine for a body corporate. Industry has raised concerns throughout the debate on this Bill that the threshold for charges of category 1 offences for industrial manslaughter are too low.

Small businesses including family farming operations, commercial fishers and any other employer or company director could face serious penalties for something they did not deliberately or knowingly intend and thus potentially criminalises accidents. Employers and company directors could be jailed and/ or face bankruptcy for an offence that they had not anticipated an accident could occur.

There are concerns that these businesses and undertakings now exposed to jail time and heavy fines could lead employers to question the hiring of future employees or even if they will stay in business.

Amendments proposed in the Upper House by the Shooters and Fishers Party to increase the threshold test for category 1 manslaughter offences by changing wording from “a failure to comply with a health and safety duty” to “gross negligence”, did not achieve majority support in the Upper House as the Nationals WA did not back the amendment.

The amendments would have required prosecutors to implement of a test of ‘reckless negligence and deliberately exposing workers to harm’ that many felt was fair and that those convicted of offences under such wording should be liable for tough penalties. Gross negligence is the standard test applied in Victoria, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern.

Other new aspects include increased penalties, prohibiting insurance coverage for WHS penalties and the introduction of enforceable undertakings as an alternative penalty.

Trevor Whittington, CEO WAFarmers, told Farm Weekly in late October “This is one of the biggest risks that farm businesses now face – it’s right up there with planning for a drought. Wholesale changes to how they operate need to happen immediately, which may include terminating employees if they lack the skills. The days of training and giving anyone a go are now gone. Serious decisions like, instead of running two bits of older equipment, replacing it with one big piece of equipment and terminating staff will be made. This will cost jobs.”

WAFarmers has called on all political parties to put $10m on the table over the next four years to put in a comprehensive safety training regime and change the culture of the agricultural industry.

The McGowan government claims the new laws will harmonise WA with other States although amendments have been made to tailor the laws to reflect unique aspects of workplaces in this State.

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety will be developing resources to assist workplace participants in adapting to the new laws.  These will be available closer to the date the new laws become operational and will include information about the new regulations.

Full story go to: https://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/parliament/bills.nsf/BillProgressPopup?openForm&ParentUNID=8F320741B83643A8482584BF000CF89B

National RD&E Seafood Industry Safety Initiative – Fishsafe Australia

The National Research, Development & Extension Seafood Industry Safety Initiative (FishSafe Australia) is an FRDC partnership with Seafood Industry Australia and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The primary role of FishSafe Australia is to identify (through partnerships and leadership) RD&E priorities through consultation with industry and develop projects to address those priorities, facilitate effective extension and adoption of RD&E outputs and promote collaboration and co-investment.

Fish Safe Australia launched their website http://fishsafeaustralia.com.au in late 2020. The website is designed to be a one-stop online safety toolkit, hosting information and resources to assist the commercial fishing industry to better manage their workplace health and safety.

One of the key features of Fish Safe Australia website will be the provision of safety management system (SMS) templates. These templates are specific to the various types of fishing gear and fishing methodologies used across the nation. SMS’s will be developed to comply with each State’s different WHS incident reporting legislative requirements.

As templates are developed they will be available at http://fishsafeaustralia.com.au/sms-templates/

Researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in WA are compiling 30 years of incident and fatality data into one location and explore trends. The information gained from this research will be used to inform strategic activities aimed at preventing incidents in the future and ensuring that current safety activities are targeting the identified gaps.

FishSafe Australia is also producing a series of podcast interviews about various activities and resources related to safety in the Australian commercial fishing industry.

The podcasts are available through https://fishsafeaustralia.podbean.com/ or http://fishsafeaustralia.com.au/hear-what-industry-is-saying/

Extension – National Law certificates of competency

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority advise all Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety vessel owners, operators, masters, coxswains and crew about an extension to all National Law certificates of competency.

Due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, AMSA has taken a pragmatic approach to seafarer certification by issuing an exemption that:

  • extends all National Law certificates of competency and all associated endorsements, expiring between 26 March and 1 October 2020, for six months from the expiry date noted on the certificate; and
  • permits crew, subject to this exemption, to work on a domestic commercial vessel for this extension period.

These changes have been made for all certificates of competency and associated endorsements expiring between 26 March and 1 October. This means that you do not have to apply for the extension, it happens automatically.

The above measures apply to National Law certificates of competency, whether issued by AMSA or a state/territory based maritime safety agency that was a delegate of AMSA when the certificate was issued.

While the above measures apply to all National Law certificates of competency, those seafarers who meet the eligibility requirements for revalidation, and have the ability to make an application before the expiry date of the certificate, are encouraged to apply to revalidate their certificate before it expires.

The safety alert is available on the AMSA website.

Should you require any further assistance or information, please contact AMSA Connect on 1800 627 484, +61 2 6279 5000 or via email to AMSAConnect@amsa.gov.au


Coronavirus – What can be done to prepare for the possibility of a viral outbreak in your workplace?

Under current legislation, employers are required to provide and maintain, as far as is practicable, a working environment in which their workers are not exposed to health risks.

This includes situations where employees and contractors may be at risk of contracting viruses such as the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

To assist you in preparing for the possibility of a viral outbreak in the workplace, the WA Government (Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety) posted information and relevant links on its website.



Fishing for Safety was produced via a collaboration between Southern Rocklobster Limited’s (SRL) Clean Green Program and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), as part of a broader, ongoing, project, titled: Southern Rock Lobster Clean Green Program; revision, digitisation & extension across the supply chain.

Funding for the project and video production was generously provided by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) on behalf of the Australian Government.

Fishing for Safety is based on AMSA’s Safety Management System (SMS) Guidelines. It also addresses general Work, Health and Safety (WH&S) requirements.

The video, of 16 minutes duration, is an engaging and superbly shot production that really makes the subject matter come to life. It puts an industry-focused take on SMS development and adoption within the Australian commercial fishing industry through the sharing of real-world stories and experiences.

While the production was driven by the Australian Southern Rock Lobster Industry, Fishing for Safety includes inspiring footage and stories across a range of fishing industry sectors and operations – it is intended for use as a freely available training and induction tool in vessel safety and SMS development.

SRL have kindly made the video available for general fishing industry consumption.

To view the video go to: https://www.southernrocklobster.com


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


A Queensland coroner has accused the Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) of “bureaucratic obstruction” as part of his findings handed down at the end of August 2019 into the fatal sinking of the fishing trawlers ‘Cassandra’ in 2016 and ‘Dianne’ in 2017.

Coroner David O’Connell was scathing in his criticism of DAF Qld and said a safety monitoring system that was an element of the state’s fishing vessel monitoring system (VMS) had existed for some time but had not been put into use by DAF.

The inquest heard that the neither the EPIRBs nor lifejackets could be accessed by the men aboard the vessel and the self-activating life-raft did not deploy.

Eighteen commercial fishermen have died at sea in the waters off Queensland in the years since 2004. The Coroner highlighted that despite a number of inquests recommending improved safety measures little has actually changed or been implemented despite technology being available.

Inquest recommendations

  • That all vessels have ‘emergency grab bags’ of basic equipment to assist crew to escape capsized vessels especially in sleeping quarters. Grab bags should contain a dive mask, knife, waterproof torch and a portable air source.
  • That self-illuminating LED strip-lighting and emergency exit signs be installed in all existing vessels within two years and after that period, it become a mandated requirement in all commercial fishing vessels
  • That all bulky items in a wheelhouse be secured with straps or bolts to stop movement in a capsizing event
  • That fishermen wear inflatable life vests fitted with personal locator beacons when working on the decks or at the helm
  • That authorities and industry review the use of quad gear used for trawling in the Sandy Straits
  • That authorities investigate ways to ensure doors on vessels can be opened against water pressure
  • That authorities ensure all vessels have up to date plans of the layout of the vessel, including any modifications– with copies kept in a secure place on land and by regulatory authorities
  • That fishing safety management systems include safe methods for retrieving snagged nets
  • That the Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries immediately implement the sharing of the ‘failure to poll’ function of the Vessel Management System to allow the Qld Police to be immediately notified via text message and email of any failure to poll by a vessel

These findings, coupled with those handed down from the WA Coroner in reference to the recent fatal sinking of the ‘Returner’ in the Pilbara will require the trawl sector of the Australian fishing industry to come together and make some important decisions on safety management for their vessels or have regulation forced upon them.

For access to the full coronial findings: https://www.courts.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/624176/cif-fvdianneandfvcassandra-20190829.pdf

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.


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


Coroners Findings on Loss of WA 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:




AMSA Takeover National Marine Safety Management from 1st July 2018

From 1stJuly 2018, the Australian Marine Safety Management Authority (AMSA) tookover 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.au  has a variety of new features and information. Since July 2018 you can 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:  Chris Battel (WA Liaison Officer) Tel 08 9430 2100 /email: chris.battel@amsa.gov.au  / mob: 0437 788 291 / 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.

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.

Please note: A new  Work Health and Safety (WHS) Bill passed the WA Legislative Assembly on November 3, 2020 and will become law once the supporting regulations are finalised in 2021.

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.