Victorian ports

Victoria’s commercial trading ports provide critical transfer points in the state’s transport network and connect Victoria to international markets.

There are five Harbour masters in Victoria. They regulate the way vessels conduct their navigation in port.

  • Warwick Laing: Port of Melbourne
  • Nicholas Ellul: Port of Hastings
  • Nicholas Ellul: Port of Geelong
  • Bevis Haywood: Gippsland Ports
  • Andrew Hays: Port of Portland

For further information about licensing harbour masters, please contact [email protected].

Visit the Department of Transport website to learn more: About Victoria’s commercial ports

Port managers are responsible for the operation and maintenance of local ports, including:

  • Planning
  • Issuing permits and licences
  • Allocating moorings
  • Maintaining wharves, jetties and navigation aids
  • Dredging
  • Operating facilities such as slipways
  • Constructing new facilities.

  • Gippsland Lakes
  • Corner Inlet and Port Albert
  • Snowy River
  • Mallacoota
  • Anderson Inlet
  • Port Phillip and Western Port
  • Port Fairy
  • Apollo Bay
  • Warrnambool
  • Port Campbell
  • Lorne
  • Barwon Heads
  • Portland Bay.

Visit the Department of Transport website to learn more: About Victoria’s local ports.


Maritime emergencies

Levels of emergency

We are the control agency for level 1 maritime casualties (not search and rescue) of all vessels in coastal waters, but not in commercial and local port waters. We are also a support agency for level 2 and level 3 maritime emergencies.

Incident Typical features
Level 1 The region and/or state tiers are not activated for control:

  • the response is day-to-day business, and the incident is managed by a control agency’s incident management team
  • the response is in the incident area only
  • the response duration is a single shift or less
  • there is little to no potential for escalation.

The region and/or state tiers are not activated for coordination:

  • there is a single or limited multi-agency response
  • resources can be sourced from one local government district.

The regional and state tiers are not activated for recovery coordination: there is little or no impact on the community and infrastructure.

Level 2 The region and/or state tiers are activated for control:

  • the incident is of medium complexity
  • the response duration is multiple shifts
  • there are one or two incident areas
  • the incident could potentially become an emergency
  • the incident involves multiple hazards.

The region and/or state tiers are activated for coordination:

  • a limited multi-agency response is required
  • the resources of more than one agency must be coordinated
  • there is a medium-term impact on critical infrastructure
  • resources are sourced from the district or state levels
  • there is a medium impact on the community.
Level 3 The region and/or state tiers are activated for control:

  • the incident is of high complexity
  • the response duration is protracted
  • there are multiple incident areas
  • the incident could become a state of emergency or lead to the declaration of a state of disaster.

The region and/or state tiers are activated for coordination:

  • there is significant impact on critical infrastructure
  • there is actual or potential loss of life or multiple, serious injuries
  • there is major impact on the routine functioning of the community, which needs the establishment of relief services.

Categories of emergency

For the purpose of delineating roles and responsibilities, maritime emergencies are divided into four categories: maritime casualty, oil spills, hazardous and noxious substance spills, and wildlife affected by marine pollution events.


Compliance and investigations

We regularly conduct audits of safety duty holders and monitor compliance with the Marine Safety Act 2010Port Management Act 1995,

  • Port managers
  • Towage providers
  • Pilotage providers
  • Line boat providers

Audits help us ensure:

  • Duty holders understand their legislative obligations
  • Duty holders voluntarily comply with such obligations consistently
  • Positive safety culture among all participants, including continuous improvements in safety management, best practice safety standards and capacity building for risk management across the industry.

Audits are scheduled on a risk basis. However, it is understood that the requirement for unscheduled audits may be conducted.

Fatigue management was the target of our compliance audits across the pilotage and towage industries, and with positive results. However, a common area of concern that was identified related to document version control.

We investigate maritime incidents, complaints and breaches of law and safety duty holder requirements.

Investigations may be systemic to identify systemic problems and recommend resolutions.

Investigations may also be undertaken into the actions of a safety duty holder such as pilots, pilotage service providers and port management bodies. The Safety Director can also conduct marine inquiries.

Other agencies conduct their own separate investigations into maritime incidents. These agencies include: