Celebrating 50 years of the National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies


A landmark national agreement, that works to keep Australia’s oceans safe from pollution, is marking its 50th anniversary. 

The National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies (National Plan) sets out arrangements, policies and principles for the management of maritime environmental emergencies, including oil and other toxic and hazardous spills. 

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is responsible for managing the National Plan, which came into effect on 1 October 1973.  

The National Plan applies throughout Australia’s exclusive economic zone, and covers all coastal waters, offshore islands and territories.  

AMSA Executive Director of Response Mark Morrow said the long-term success of the National Plan is an important milestone in the history of maritime environmental protection in Australia. 

“Australia takes its role as the guardian of the Great Barrier Reef, and our precious oceans, very seriously,” he said.   

“For half a century, AMSA has coordinated around 30 pollution responses under the National Plan, ranging from oil spills to ship salvage. 

“Through the National Plan, AMSA works with states, territories, emergency services, industry and other stakeholders to ensure that responses to marine pollution incidents are rapid and effective, with clear identification of roles and responsibilities.” 

The National Plan came into effect following a major oil spill from the Oceanic Grandeur in the Torres Strait.  

This incident clearly demonstrated the need for national coordination of large incidents. 

Mr Morrow said this anniversary of the National Plan is an invaluable opportunity for the community to celebrate 50 years of outstanding marine pollution response.  

“This milestone provides an important moment to recognise the strength of a nationally coordinated response, and the inter-jurisdictional relationships that are key to the National Plan’s success,” he said.  

“We are extremely pleased to see there has been an improvement in pollution response capabilities and a reduction in marine pollution incidents, over the years. 

“No one wants a marine pollution incident to occur, but when it does, we need to be prepared.” 


Media Enquiries: media@amsa.gov.au or 1300 624 633  


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