Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Protection of the Sea

Conventions and Legislation in Australia

In accordance with Australia’s responsibilities and policies, AMSA coordinates a national pollution prevention and response strategy to protect Australia's marine environment from pollution caused by shipping and related activities.

International Maritime Organization

Action to improve maritime safety and prevent marine pollution is more effective if carried out internationally rather than by countries acting individually and without co-ordination.

A conference held by the United Nations in 1948 adopted a convention establishing the International Maritime Organization (IMO) (known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization until May 1982) as the first international body devoted exclusively to maritime matters.

IMO is a technical organization, with most of its work undertaken by committees and sub-committees.

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is particularly relevant to pollution from ships. Australia has:

  • been a member of IMO since its inception
  • currently serves on the governing Council
  • provides chair or deputy chair persons for a number of committees, sub-committees and working groups.

In addition, Australia sends delegations comprising representatives of Governments and industry to a wide range of IMO Committee and Working Group meetings on a regular basis.

As a member of IMO, Australia has been active in developing and is a party to many IMO conventions.

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)

Entry into force:

  • MARPOL 2 October 1983 (international) 14 January 1988 (Australia)
  • Annex I (Oil) 2 October 1983 (international) 14 January 1988 (Australia)
  • Annex II (Noxious Liquid Substances) 6 April 1987 (international) 14 January 1988 (Australia)
  • Annex III (Harmful Substances in Packaged Forms) 1 July 1992 (international) 10 January 1995 (Australia)
  • Annex IV (Sewage) 27 September 2003 (international) 27 May 2004 (Australia)
  • Annex V (Garbage) 31 December 1988 (international) 14 November 1990 (Australia)
  • Annex VI (Air Pollution) 19 May 2005 (International) 10 November 2007 (Australia).

Implementation

States/NT have implemented complementary MARPOL legislation as indicated:

Annex I - oil Annex II - chemicals Annex III - packaged Annex IV - sewage Annex V - garbage Annex VI - air pollution
QLD Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
NSW Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
VIC* Yes No No No Yes No
TAS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
SA Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
WA Yes Yes No No No No
NT Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No

*Operational aspects only

Where a State/NT does not have complementary legislation for a specific Annex of the Convention, the Commonwealth legislation applies.

The Commonwealth legislation giving effect to MARPOL is:

The Commonwealth MARPOL implementing legislation includes a number of enforcement related provisions derived from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. These are:

  • extension of the application of the Act to the EEZ (section 6)
  • provisions which require foreign ships to provide information (section 26G)
  • detention of foreign ships suspected of involvement in pollution breaches. (The ship must be released on the posting of a bond or in the event of other circumstances arising as listed in the Act - section 27A)
  • provision that detention may include escorting a ship into port (subsection 27A(1A))
  • provision to ensure that proceedings in Australia against a foreign ship for a pollution breach will be suspended if proceedings for the same pollution breach are taken in the flag state of the ship (subsection 29(2))
  • provision of specific powers relating to inspection of ships in the EEZ which are suspected of having caused a pollution breach
  • a requirement for an Australian ship that is in the territorial sea or the EEZ of a foreign country to provide information required by that country to determine if a pollution breach has occurred (section 27C).

State/NT legislation giving effect to MARPOL is:

Annex IV of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty

The summary and text of this Protocol can be found at the Antarctic Treaty Committee for Environmental Protection website.

Entry into force: 14 January 1998 (International and for Australia)

Implementation

The Commonwealth legislation giving effect to the ship based pollution aspects of this Protocol is the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983.

International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1992 (the Civil Liability Convention)

Entry into force: 30 May 1996 (international) 9 October 1996 (Australia).

Implementation

The Commonwealth legislation giving effect to this Convention is:

There is no complementary State/NT legislation.

International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1992

(Also 2003 Protocol to the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1992)

The 2003 Protocol was tabled in Parliament at the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties on 8 May 2006. The National Interest Analysis can also be found on the Australian Parliament web site.

Entry into force: 30 May 1996 (international) 9 October 1996 (Australia)

Protocol: 3 March 2005 (international) 13 October 2009 (Australia)

Implementation

The Commonwealth legislation giving effect to this Convention is:

There is no complementary State/NT legislation.

The Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties 1969 (the Intervention Convention)

Entry into force: 6 May 1975 (international) 5 Feb 1984 (Australia) Protocol

Implementation

The Commonwealth legislation giving effect to this Convention is:

States/NT (except Western Australia) have implemented complementary Powers of Intervention legislation by including provisions in the Acts:

International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation 1990 (OPRC 90)

(Also 2000 Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-operation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances)

Entry into force (Convention): 13 May 1995 (International and Australia)

Entry into force (Protocol): 14 June 2007 (International and Australia)

Implementation

Generally, the provisions of this Convention and Protocol did not require implementing legislation.

The only exception relates to Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plans, see:

International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships 2001

Entry into force: 17 September 2008. (International and Australia).

Implementation

Protection of the Sea (Harmful Anti-fouling Systems) Act 2006.

The International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001

This Convention was tabled in Parliament at the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties on 8 May 2006. The National Interest Analysis can be found on the Australian Parliament web site.

Entry into force: 21 November 2008. (International) 16 June 2009 (Australia).

Implementation

Protection of the Sea (Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage) Act 2008

International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments 2004

Entry into force: Not yet in force.

The Convention will enter in force 12 months after 30 States with combined merchant fleets constituting 35 per cent of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping have signed the Convention.

Australia signed subject to ratification on 29 May 2005.

Implementation

The Convention was tabled in Parliament on 13 June 2007.

Implementing legislation is currently being developed by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Further information

Last updated: May 2016

Twitter Facebook YouTube Copyright · Accessibility · Site Map · Privacy

Information Publication Scheme Davis Langdon Certification Services