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Maritime security

Port operators

Under the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 (MTOFSA) operators of prescribed ports have particular security responsibilities. This includes having an approved maritime security plan (MSP) in place.

Port operators are designated by publication in the government gazette and are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the port including:

  • scheduling
  • general security
  • arranging and holding port-wide security committee meetings
  • berthage
  • anchorage
  • wharfage

Beyond their own operations, the port operator is responsible for all waterside security measures within the port. In many ports, the port operator will also be responsible for common-user berths within the security regulated port. The port operator under MTOFSA may also be the Harbour Master under state legislation.

Operations that fall outside the security regulated port boundary are not subject to security regulation.

Port Security Committee (PSC) meetings are held and coordinated by the port operator to increase and foster effective communication between relevant maritime industry participants and other stakeholders at the port.

Security assessments

The MTOFSA requires security assessments be undertaken of port operations. This is a critical part of successfully developing a security plan. Security risks and vulnerabilities identified through this assessment will inform mitigation measures contained in the security plan.

Security regulated port boundary

Gazetting only applies to port boundaries, port operator and offshore facility locations.

To determine where maritime transport security regulation applies at a port, the Secretary of the Department gazettes a map of its boundary. The maritime security plan for a port operator must include a map of the whole security regulated port. Areas controlled exclusively by the Australian Defence Force must not be included within the security regulated port.

The gazetted boundary determines the extent and scope of powers that can be exercised in those ports under the MTOFSA. For example, a port facility seeking security regulation must be located within the boundary of the security regulated port.

Port security zones

Security zones are areas within a security regulated port that are subject to higher security measures than other areas. They are established to restrict general public access and prevent interference with ships, facilities, people, vehicles or vessels.

Proposing the establishment of a security zone

Port facility operators can write to the department requesting the establishment of a security zone. The department may establish the requested security zone within the boundaries of a security regulated port. When this is done the department sends written notice to the port operator. A port operator should hold notices of all security zones established within their port.

Regulatory guidance and templates for port operators

The MTOFSA requires port operators to submit, hold and maintain an approved Maritime Security Plan.

Submitting applications and supporting documentation

For general and pre-submission enquiries contact the Transport Security Guidance Centre

Final applications and supporting documents can be submitted by:

The department will assess your application and contact you as required.