The Victorian Government has introduced the Marine Safety Regulations 2023 to improve safety for Victorian boaters.

The new regulations apply from June 11, 2023 and replace the now expired Marine Safety Regulations 2012.

Safe Transport Victoria will work with the industry and public to ensure they are able to meet the requirements

A summary of the changes is below.

Read the Marine Safety Regulations 2023 in full on the Victorian Legislation website.

Matter Changes
Lifejacket use Lifejackets must be worn in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions as lifejackets offer little safety benefits if not worn in accordance with manufacturers requirements and specifications.

The following changes now apply for lifejacket use in Victoria:

  • In situations where children are always required to wear life jackets, the age limit has changed from ‘less than 10 years old’, to ‘less than 12 years’ old.
  • A sole adult boating with children less than 12 is considered boating alone, and must comply with the heightened risk provisions that apply to boating alone. Mandatory lifejacket wear applies in times of heightened risk,
  • Australian  standards are to be the only recognized standard for lifejackets in Victoria. This change will apply from July 1 2028.
  • The new regulations replace references to ‘personal flotation device’ with the common term ‘lifejacket’.

Note: Lifejackets will continue to be required to be worn on vessels up to and including 4.8 metres in length and in circumstances of heightened risk.

Marine flares
  • Powered vessels are required to carry on board flares in both enclosed and coastal waters.
  • The regulations introduce an option for vessels operating on enclosed waters to carry one of the following in place of pyrotechnic distress flares:
    • a Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), or
    • Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), or
    • VHF marine radio with a minimum 25-watt output
Marine radios
  • 27MHz radios no longer meet the definition of marine radios.
  • Marine radios must be ACMA-approved VHF radios. See the regulations for full specifications.
  • VHF radios have a longer range and are more reliable in deteriorating conditions and are also supported by an extensive VHF Coastal delivered by Marine Radio Victoria, which provides 24/7 distress monitoring while also   providing weather forecasts, safety alerts and radio checks.
Navigation lights
  • There is a new infringement for installing navigation lights incorrectly, including having  navigation lights installed incorrectly during daylight hours.This condition requires that navigation lights are placed so that they are consistent with the provisions of the Convention in the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea.
  • Applicants for a marine licence will continue to be required to pass a knowledge test in order to be eligible for a marine licence. The Regulations allow for the inclusion of questions relating to safe operations, such as trip preparation and emergency management.
  • Marine licences can now be issued and renewed for a period of one year or five years. Licences were previously only permitted to be issued or renewed for a five-year period.
Vessel refueling requirements
  • Penalties apply for fuelling vessels while passengers are on board – and also for restarting vessels with passengers on board after fuelling.
  • The existing Marine Safety Regulations prohibited fuelling at a wharf, jetty or pier when passengers were on board, and also restarting vessels with passengers on board after fuelling at a wharf, jetty or pier.
  • The new 2023 regulations add all other places that are not a wharf, jetty or pier. It is now prohibited to fuel a vessel with passengers on board at any place and prohibited to restart a vessel with passengers on board at any place.
  • An exemption exists for places other than a wharf, jetty and pier if it is not practical or possible to disembark passengers before fuelling or restarting the vessel.
Pilotage service providers Regulations require pilotage service providers to prepare and maintain and regularly review a safety management system. The systems must:

  • Identify responsibilities for safety management and system implementation
  • Identify safety risks and risk mitigation controls
  • Prepare an emergency management plan
  • Manage fatigue and alcohol/drug use, and ensure safe embarking/disembarking of pilots and,
  • Ensure pilots are properly trained, qualified and competent.