Fine and conviction for company caught operating dilapidated barge in Pittwater

AMSA Media release with bottom of the sea image

The owner of a dilapidated barge who was caught operating the vessel in Pittwater despite a prohibition by authorities, was convicted and fined $5,500 in Sydney Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 24 February 2021. 

Marine safety inspectors from Transport for NSW, acting on behalf of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) issued the barge’s owner, Pittwater Enterprises, with a prohibition notice in May 2017. 

At the time, the barge, operating in the busy Pittwater area, lacked structural and watertight integrity which placed it at serious risk of sinking, posing a threat to the marine environment and safety of mariners. 

Marine safety inspectors caught Pittwater Enterprises Pty Ltd operating the barge 12 months later without having made improvements to the dilapidated barge and despite the prohibition notice which still applied to its operation. 

AMSA issued an infringement to Pittwater Enterprises Pty Ltd for breaching the prohibition notice, however this went unpaid. AMSA subsequently charged the company with breaching a prohibition notice under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012.

AMSA General Manager Operations Allan Schwartz said the breach was a serious concern. 

“A prohibition notice isn’t just a piece of paper. If a marine safety inspector has issued a commercial vessel like a barge with a prohibition notice, it’s for good reason,” Mr Schwartz said. 

“In this case, the barge owned by Pittwater Enterprises Pty Ltd represented a very real threat to the marine environment and safety of mariners in Pittwater. 

“Ignoring the prohibition notice, failing to make any safety improvements to the barge and then deliberately deciding to operate it inside a busy harbour shows a level of recklessness that we just won’t accept. 

“The owners of commercial vessels have a legal obligation to ensure their vessels can be operated safely and don’t place either the marine environment or people at risk of serious harm. 

“Failure to comply with that duty is costly, as evidenced by this outcome for Pittwater Enterprises Pty Ltd – a conviction may have lasting consequences.” 

Mr Schwartz thanked Transport for NSW for their collaboration in helping to keep Pittwater safe.