The national regulator for commercial vessel operations in Australia, including commercial crabbers and bait fishers, is calling for industry feedback on a proposal to provide alternative safety equipment requirements for small fishing vessels operating in warm waters close to shore.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Operations General Manager Al Schwartz said since 2016, commercial fishing vessels in Australia had been required to gradually adopt more modern safety equipment requirements.
“Commercial fishing is incredibly diverse in this country and it ranges from complex, offshore trawling and floating refrigeration operations with dozens of workers, to small one-person operations fishing up rivers and in just a couple of metres of water,” Mr Schwartz said.
“Over the past 18 months, we’ve received extensive feedback from Queensland commercial fishing operators who have told us that the safety equipment requirements for small vessels operating close to land are onerous, don’t reflect the true risks associated with their operations and are impractical to apply.
“One example would be the requirement to carry a buoyant appliance such as a life-ring with 30 metres of rope attached – that’s logical for a larger vessel with multiple people on board out at sea, but not for a tinny that’s only five metres long with one person on board operating in waist-deep water.”
Mr Schwartz said AMSA was a modern regulator and had listened to industry feedback.
“We’re now inviting industry to work with us on a more risk-based approach to safety equipment requirements for certain operations,” Mr Schwartz said.
“We’ve drafted alternative safety equipment requirement lists which we’re proposing would be uniquely available to vessel operations in warm waters that also meet a number of other criteria.”
Those additional criteria include that the vessels are less than 12m in length, aren’t already required to be in survey and operate with just one person on board in waters that are within two nautical miles of land and have a year-round temperature of 20 degrees Celsius or more.
“So, vessels in parts of Queensland, Northern Territory and northern New South Wales,” Mr Schwartz said, adding “and now we want to hear industry feedback on this alternative safety equipment requirement list.”
Consultation closes 8th October 2020. For more info and to make a submission, visit amsa.gov.au/consultation or free-call AMSA on 1800 627 484.