Navigation and environmental safety paramount in maritime industry

AS a stakeholder for all offshore exploration and exploitation activities between the Australian mainland and the limit of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) responsibilities cover shipping safety and marine environment protection.
As such, all offshore exploration duty holders need to consult with AMSA on a range of matters regarding safe shipping standards and practices.
Safety of navigation is one such matter.
Undertaking seismic surveys and exploratory drilling operations through or near shipping routes can increase the risk of collisions, with potentially catastrophic consequences. AMSA and the Australian Hydrographic Service issue Maritime Safety Information (MSI) in the form of navigational warnings and Notices to Mariners. However, duty holders must still have measures in place to mitigate these risks, as some ships may not fully understand the MSI or may not respond appropriately to it.
The degree of residual risk depends in part on the volume of shipping traffic in or near the area of operation. AMSA can provide historical shipping traffic data to help assess these risks and can offer guidance (by marking arrangements on offshore installations) to help reduce the possibility of collision.
Environmental safety and incident preparedness is also paramount to AMSA. It manages the National Plan to Combat the Pollution of the Sea by Oil and Other Noxious and Hazardous Substances to maximise Australia’s marine pollution response capability. The plan’s Explanatory Note, Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Arrangements for Offshore Petroleum
Activities in Commonwealth Waters provides useful guidance for emergency situations, but duty holders should consult with AMSA for the development of any oil spill contingency
AMSA is also involved with surveying and certification. It administers the Navigation Act 1912, which generally applies to trading ships on international and interstate voyages, including ships engaged in offshore exploration and exploitation activities, when the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 does not apply.
In regards to shipping registration, when a ship, including a barge without a means of propulsion, is Australian owned and liable to be registered under the Shipping
Registration Act 1981 it is required to be registered irrespective of the application of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.
Further information is available on the AMSA website.

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