Australia: Implementing new National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies


Published: 7 July 2014

The development

AMSA, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, released in March this year a new National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies. This plan combines previous plans which addressed pollution caused by oil and other hazardous / noxious substances, as well as developing these plans.

Members calling at Australian ports, or traversing Australian waters, should familiarise themselves with these new plans, so that they understand in advance how such emergencies would be handled by AMSA.

An overview of this development can be found in the April 2014 Trade & Transport Alert from Ashurt Australia, republished here with their kind permission.

Loss prevention advice

Dealing with casualties and emergencies will put even the most prepared organisations to the test, and the Association would recommend to all of its members to have in place plans and guidelines for how to respond to such a situation. Key staff involved in the casualty response need to know their role before such an event, once it has happened there is no time to have a debate about "who is meant to be doing what".

A well developed casualty response plan, a PIC to co-ordinate the response, as well as exercises on both vessels and shore side to simulate a casualty scenario can help to prepare a company for the worst. Given that at present the frequency of large scale casualties is down over previous years, it is good to keep up practice and share experience between senior and junior staff so that companies can maintain their level of preparedness.

In the meantime the regulatory and legal picture is becoming more developed as well as complicated. While there are international agreements, such as the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, which seeks to provide a streamlined framework for one of the biggest issues in modern casualties: the removal of wrecks, many governments have implemented their own rules and regulations to address other casualty situations. Examples include the requirements for US calls or Chinese port calls, where shipowners need to sign up with approved contractors for oil spill response plans.

Understanding the respective requirements found in any particular country the vessel may trade to are a challenge, as well as a necessity, for ensuring vessels can enjoy smooth trading. The alternative is to risk inspections, detentions, delay, fines and prosecution.

Since January 2014, the Association has a Global Casualty Response Co-ordinator who can assist members who have queries in connection with preparedness for casualty.

Skuld is always ready to discuss these issues with its members and for further information, members are asked to contact the Association.

The Association is grateful to Messrs. Ashurst Australia for permitting the republication of their April 2014 Trade & Transport Bulletin.