Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is an Australian
statutory authority A statutory body or statutory authority is a body set up by law (statute) that is authorised to implement certain legislation on behalf of the relevant country or state, sometimes by being empowered or delegated to set rules (for example reg ...
responsible for the regulation and safety oversight of Australia's shipping fleet and management of Australia's international maritime obligations. The authority has jurisdiction over Australia's exclusive economic zone which covers an area of . AMSA maintains Australia's shipping registries: the generalAMSA
Register a vessel
/ref> and the international shipping registers.AMSA
Australian international shipping register
/ref> AMSA was established in 1990 under the ''Australian Maritime Safety Authority Act 1990'' and governed by the ''Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997''. AMSA is an agency within the
Department of Infrastructure and Transport The Department of Infrastructure and Transport was an Australian government department. It was formed in September 2010, following the federal election in August 2010. The department absorbing parts of the Department of Infrastructure, Tra ...
. Directors are appointed by the minister. The international treaties which AMSA administers include the ''Navigation Act 2012'' and the ''Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983''. Organised sea rescue in Australia was well established during the Second World War. Precursor international arrangements also included usage of a range of warning and communication systems. AMSA is funded largely through levies on the
shipping Freight transport, also referred as ''Freight Forwarding'', is the physical process of transporting commodities and merchandise goods and cargo. The term shipping originally referred to transport by sea but in American English, it has been ex ...
industry. In the 2010-2011 financial year, AMSA recorded expenses of just over $146 million, with revenue at just under $159 million, creating a surplus of more than $10 million.


Marine safety activities of AMSA include: * the provision, operation and maintenance of a network of marine aids to navigation, for example,
lighthouse A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of physical structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses and to serve as a beacon for navigational aid, for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways. Lighthouses mark ...
s * ensuring the seaworthiness and safe operation of Australian and foreign vessels in Australian waters, including the enforcement of compulsory pilotage * administering the certification of seafarers * the provision of a maritime distress and safety communications network * the operation of Australia's
Rescue Coordination Centre A rescue co-ordination centre (RCC) is a primary search and rescue facility in a country that is staffed by supervisory personnel and equipped for co-ordinating and controlling search and rescue operations. RCCs are responsible for a geographic are ...
and coordination of search and rescue (SAR) operations for civilian aircraft and vessels in distress and * the development of a maritime safety commercial vessel legislative framework and operating system. AMSA aims to protect the marine environment by administering programs to prevent and respond to the threat of ship-sourced marine pollution; and together with the
Australian Marine Oil Spill Centre The Australian Marine Oil Spill Centre (AMOSC) is an organisation set up by the petroleum industry to enable a quick and effective response to oil spills around the Australian coastline. The organisation is owned by the Australian Institute of Pe ...
, managing Australia's National Plan to combat pollution of the sea by oil and other noxious and hazardous substances. It is responsible for administering MARPOL 73/78, an international marine environmental convention designed to minimize pollution of the seas. AMSA can instigate prosecutions itself, but mainly works with states and territories during investigations and enforcement activities such as vessel inspections. A recent major AMSA project involved the rewrite of the Navigation Act 1912, the agency's governing statute.

Shipping registers

AMSA maintains two shipping registers. Ships registered on an Australian shipping register have
Australian nationality Australian nationality law details the conditions in which a person holds Australian legal nationality. The primary law governing nationality regulations is the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, which came into force on 1 July 2007 and is applic ...
for international shipping law purposes. Unless otherwise exempt, Australian owned ships are required to be registered on the general or international shipping register if it is a domestic commercial vessel, 24 metres or over in tonnage length, capable of navigating the high seas, or any vessel travelling overseas. Vessels engaging in international trading that are at least 24 metres in tonnage length and wholly owned or operated by Australian residents, or by Australian residents and Australian nationals may apply to be registered on the international register. There are tax incentives for ships on the international register to make the register competitive with other registers, such as vessels being operated with mixed crews, with the majority of officers and crew not being required to be Australian citizens or residents. AMSA has delegated certain survey and certification functions to a number of recognised
classification societies A ship classification society or ship classification organisation is a non-governmental organization that establishes and maintains technical standards for the construction and operation of ships and offshore structures. Classification societie ...
, which are members of the
International Association of Classification Societies The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) is a technically based non-governmental organization that currently consists of eleven member marine classification societies. More than 90% of the world's cargo-carrying ships’ to ...
. The
Council of Australian Governments The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) was the primary intergovernmental forum in Australia from 1992 to 2020. Comprising the federal government, the governments of the six states and two mainland territories and the Australian Local G ...
(COAG) in 2011 directed AMSA to work co-operatively with the states and territories to create a national system for domestic commercial vessels, including any changes to Commonwealth, state and territory laws and administrative arrangements of the parties that are necessary to facilitate the reform. The new legislation came into effect in 2013, and the transition to the new system was completed in July 2018.

Emergency towage vessel capability

''Coral Knight'' is an anchor handling
tug A tugboat or tug is a marine vessel that manoeuvres other vessels by pushing or pulling them, with direct contact or a tow line. These boats typically tug ships in circumstances where they cannot or should not move under their own power, suc ...
supply vessel modified to fulfil the role of dedicated emergency towage vessel (ETV). It is the only ETV of its type in Australia and operates in the particularly sensitive sea areas of the northern Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait. ''Coral Knight'' is also equipped to respond to other maritime incidents such as search and rescue or limiting the effects of ship-sourced pollution of the sea and carries
oil pollution An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially the marine ecosystem, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is usually given to marine oil spills, where oil is released into t ...
response equipment.


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

See also

* Australian aerial patrol * Coast Guards of Australia


External links

* {{Authority control Shipping in Australia Commonwealth Government agencies of Australia Maritime safety organizations Lighthouse organizations 1990 establishments in Australia Water transport in Australia Organisations based in Canberra Regulatory authorities of Australia Maritime safety in Australia