Introduction of Marine Safety Regulation 2016 from 1 July 2016

From 1 July 2016, the Marine Safety Regulation 2016 replaces the Marine Safety (General) Regulation 2009. The Marine Safety Regulation 2016 has been designed to promote safety, reduce red tape and improve administrative efficiency.

The most significant changes include:

Changes to licensing

  • The licence application process has been streamlined. From 1 July 2016 licence applicants do not need to complete a theory-based boating safety course before getting a licence. Current requirements to complete practical boating training and a knowledge test continue to apply
  • A new 10-year licence has been introduced
  • Separate licence classes under 16 years of age have been removed. Current young adult licences will be recognised until they expire
  • A new licence exemption for those completing practical boating training with a registered training organisation for a personal watercraft (PWC) licence
  • All Interstate licence holders are required to comply with NSW licence conditions. This includes interstate licensees under 16, and means they will have the same restrictions as people under 16 licensed in NSW. All interstate licensees must also carry their interstate licence and produce their licence if required by an authorised officer.

Changes to registration

  • Boats no longer require a registration label
  • Vessels in the charge of a marine dealer no longer need to display a trade plate
  • Transfer of vessel registration ownership notification is now required within 14 days instead of 21 days.

Changes to streamline the administration of aquatic activities

  • There is scope to reduce the range of activities that require an aquatic licence
  • Licences can only be issued for aquatic activities that last no longer than 14 days on any one occasion. This will not affect aquatic licences that last for more than 14 non-consecutive days, such as sailing races that occur once weekly for a 12 month period. Please note: Transport for NSW may grant exemptions to the 14 day restriction.
  • A waterway access fee may be charged for aquatic activities requiring exclusive use. This fee will be charged at an appropriate market rate.

Changes to enhance safety

  • New lifejacket standards have been adopted
  • Requirements for wearing lifejackets have been simplified
  • Safe distance requirements have been strengthened to require vessels to remain 60 metres from people in the water and dive flags, or if that is not practicable a safe distance and speed. Power-driven vessels travelling at six knots or more must maintain a distance of 30 metres from vessels, land or structures, or if that is not practicable a safe distance and speed
  • A speed restriction of 60 knots has been introduced for vessels towing a person under 18 years of age
  • Current requirements to keep all parts of each occupant's body within a vessel while the vessel is making way have been increased so that a person is not allowed to be on the bow of a vessel in a position that puts them at increased risk of falling overboard when a vessel is making way
  • Towing restrictions have been modified to permit wake surfing provided the vessel meets certain design standards
  • Current offences for exceeding safe load limits have been strengthened so that when a vessel is not fitted with a safety label, there is a simpler rule on how to calculate what the vessel's safe loading capacity is
  • Personal Watercraft (PWC) owners and operators must ensure the number of people on the PWC does not exceed the manufacturer’s specification
  • New powers allow authorised officers to immediately suspend a general boat or PWC driving licence, where the licence holder is:
    • Charged with an offence involving the death of, or grievous bodily harm to, another person caused by the use of the vessel
    • Given a penalty notice, or is charged with an offence, of reckless, dangerous or negligent navigation
    • Given a penalty notice, or is charged with an offence, for operating a vessel with a middle or high range prescribed concentration of alcohol
  • Transport for NSW will have new powers to erect the signage that prohibits the operation of wake boats
  • New powers allow Transport for NSW to issue directions to operators of commercial vessels and people to manage safety on navigable waters.

Some fines have been increased

  • Fines for towing, safety equipment and lifejacket offences have increased from $100 to $250
  • Fines for operating an unregistered vessel or overloading a vessel have increased from $250 to $500
  • A new fine of $500 has been introduced for those who have a registered PWC and allow it to be operated by an unlicensed person.

PWC licence disqualification periods have been reduced

  • For a first offence of operating a PWC unlicensed or in an exclusion zone, disqualification periods have been reduced from two years to a maximum of one year
  • For a second offence from four years to a maximum of two years
  • For third and subsequent offences from a lifetime ban to a maximum of two years.

More information

For more information refer to the Boating Handbook or call 13 12 36.

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