Offshore installations

International vessels, aircraft, persons and goods arriving at installations operating within or outside Australian territory represent possible pathways for exotic pests and diseases to enter Australia.

The Department of Agriculture (department) manages biosecurity control of all international arrivals into the Australian territory (within 12NM) including the management of offshore oil and gas installations.

Biosecurity legislation

The Biosecurity (Exposed Conveyances – Exceptions from Biosecurity Control) Determination 2016 (the Determination) gives effect to the department’s policy approach to offshore installations. The Determination is a legislative instrument made under section 196(2) of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Act).

Overview

Offshore installations operating outside of Australian territory are not subject to department biosecurity control. However, any conveyance (such as support vessels and aircraft) that leaves Australian territory and interacts with an offshore installation (physical contact or in close proximity) becomes an exposed conveyance and is subject to biosecurity requirements when returning to Australia such as provisioning.

When the exposed conveyance returns to Australian territory it becomes subject to biosecurity control and must undertake pre-arrival reporting and notify the department if it intends to unload goods.

There are many interactions outside Australian territory between conveyances and offshore installations. The department’s policy approach is that when these interactions occur, the biosecurity risk of the exposed conveyance is assessed. If the exposed conveyance’s biosecurity risk is assessed as low, it will not be subject to biosecurity control, when returning to Australian territory.

Biosecurity Risk Assessment

In order for exposed conveyances to be assessed as low risk, the offshore installation must demonstrate that it meets the requirements set out in the Determination. 

To have risk status assessed, offshore installation projects must apply to the department at least one month prior to project commencement. The department will work with installation representatives to assess the biosecurity risk of the installation and associated support conveyances (vessels and aircraft).

For more information, to notify the department of a project which may have conveyance interactions with Australian territory, or to discuss a biosecurity assessment, email seaports@agriculture.gov.au.

Once an offshore installation has demonstrated it meets biosecurity requirements:

  • exposed conveyances may be exempt from biosecurity control when returning to Australian territory.
  • exposed conveyances (vessels and aircraft) qualify for exemption from pre-arrival reporting, and notifications to unload goods under the Biosecurity Regulation 2016.

When an exposed conveyance biosecurity risk poses an unacceptable biosecurity risk it will be subject to biosecurity control and will be required to submit a pre-arrival report and notify any intent to unload goods for further assessment and management.

Conveyances exposed to an international conveyance, that cannot meet the requirements outlined in section 6(1) of the Determination, will remain subject to biosecurity control in Australian territory. These conveyances must meet all obligations under the Act including those related to pre-arrival reporting, disinsection, notification to unload goods and physical inspection of the conveyance by biosecurity officers on arrival to Australian territory.

Detailed information on Australian biosecurity management requirements for vessels, equipment and infrastructure entering Australian waters (including vessels servicing these activities) can be found in the Offshore Installations Biosecurity Guide.

Pre-arrival Reporting

Pre-arrival reporting for maritime conveyances is completed through the Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS).

Australian Territory

The jurisdiction of the Act is the Australian territory which includes:

  • Australia
  • Christmas Island
  • the Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • any external territory such as Norfolk Island
  • the airspace and the coastal sea of these areas which generally extends to 12 NM.

These following locations are collectively referred to as Australian External Territories (AET). These territories are not part of Australian territory as defined by the Act and are managed by other Australian Government Agencies with movements to and from them subject to the respective Acts governing the territory. These territories include: Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island, Coral Sea Islands (Willis Island), Macdonald and Heard Island and the Australian Antarctic territory.

Compliance and Enforcement

Under section 532 of the Act, a person is liable to a civil penalty for false or misleading information, or omission of any matter, or thing, without which the information is misleading. 

Failure to comply with a requirement under the Act may result in penalties, including infringement notices, civil penalties or criminal prosecutions.

Related Australian government agencies

Offshore installations regulators to consult about an offshore project:

National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) - Australia's independent regulator for health and safety, environmental management, structural and well integrity for offshore petroleum facilities and activities in Commonwealth waters.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) – Promotion of the safety and protection of Australia’s marine environment and combat ship-sourced pollution and providing the infrastructure for safety of navigation in Australian waters, a national search and rescue service for the maritime and aviation sectors.

Department of the Environment and Energy - Designing and implementing Australian Government policy and programs to protect and conserve the environment, water and heritage, promote climate action, and provide adequate, reliable and affordable energy.

Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) - Managing the efficient management and sustainable use of Commonwealth fish resources on behalf of the Australian community.