23 August 2021
Who does this notice affect?
This notice is of interest to national ABF officers and government maritime officers. Maritime officers include the Commonwealth’s Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) agency and state government’s Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ).
What has changed?
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department) can now provide ABF and government maritime officers, with access to MARS to support the assessment of biosecurity human health risks.
This is part of the Australian Government’s continuing efforts to manage human health and ensure the safe operation of the shipping industry as well as the public health of all Australians.
What do you need to do?
A Quick Reference Guide (QRG) has been published on the MARS Communications and Training Materials webpage to provide advice on requesting access to MARS as an ABF or maritime officer user.
Access to MARS is a 2-step process. In addition, you will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before gaining access.
The department’s National Maritime Centre (NMC) is the first point of contact for all MARS access requests as well as all international vessel arrival questions. The MNCC is based in Adelaide, South Australia.
Phone 1300 004 605 (in Australia) or +61 8 8201 6185 (outside Australia), fax 1300 005 882 or email email@example.com. NMC’s operating hours are published on the Vessel Contacts webpage.
Biosecurity Act and confidentiality of information
The department provides the authorisation to access information (in MARS) for permissible purposes to manage potential biosecurity risk under section 580 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (the Act). MARS users have obligations to manage protected information in accordance with the Act and to only access MARS as part of permissible purposes to manage:
- biosecurity risks
- the risk of contagion of a listed human disease
- the risk of listed human diseases entering Australian territory or a part of Australian territory, or emerging, establishing themselves or spreading in Australian territory or a part of Australian territory
- risks relating to ballast water
- biosecurity emergencies and human biosecurity emergencies
- to give effect to Australia’s international rights and obligations, including under the International Health Regulations, the SPS Agreement and the Biodiversity Convention.
View the Vessels webpages for information on Australia’s biosecurity reporting obligations and responsibilities.
The QRGs and general information to help understand and navigate MARS is published in the master and agent User Guides published on the MARS Communications and Training Materials webpage.
See the Department of Health website: www.health.gov.au for the latest key contact information, travel advice and the collection of factsheets for industry and the general public Resources on COVID-19.