Plant export legislation changes

The Export Control (Plants and Plant Products) Rules 2021 (plant rules) set the specific requirements for the export of plants and plant products. The Plant Rules will be reviewed annually and where needed, amended. Details of the changes will be captured on this webpage.

Proposed changes affecting export bulk vessels

We are proposing regulatory changes to improve export bulk vessel survey and inspection practices. The proposed changes will provide greater assurance to us, the shipping industry, and Australia’s grain exporters that bulk vessels comply with agricultural export legislation. Infestation or contamination of product in a bulk vessel can occur when transiting to its destination overseas. These changes seek to minimise this risk and resulting financial impacts to Australia’s grain export industry. The changes aim to preserve Australia’s trade reputation and market access by improving compliance and assurance of bulk vessel export practices.

We have been collaborating on these changes with the Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors (AIMS) and representatives of Australia’s shipping and grain export industries. Now we would like to hear from you.

From 1 November 2021, it is proposed that the following requirements will apply:

  1. All bulk vessel inspection authorised officers (BVI AOs) will need to record bulk vessel inspections for plant product exports using a helmet-mounted video recording device.
  2. All qualified marine surveyors will be accredited under the Accredited Grain Surveyor Assurance (AGSA) Scheme by AIMS to survey and certify bulk vessels.

The following sections contain further details on the 2 proposed changes.

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Implementation of helmet-mounted recording devices for bulk vessel inspections

It is intended that it will be mandatory for all bulk vessel inspections to be recorded by BVI AOs using helmet-mounted video recording devices.

BVI AOs or their employers will be responsible for purchasing the:

  • helmet-mounted video recording device/s, which must record at a minimum of 540p (960 x 540 pixels) at 25 frames per second (fps)
  • additional spare batteries
  • helmet mounts for cameras
  • spare camera memory cards
  • adequate storage to store video footage for 2 years. 

Both AOs involved in the bulk vessel inspection (BVI buddies) must video record the inspection.

For audit purposes, BVI AOs or their employers will be responsible for storing recorded video footage for up to 2 years. Recorded footage must be made available to us on request. We will provide guidance on how to provide the recorded footage.

Further information, and changes to instructional material, will be provided to support BVI AO familiarisation and understanding of the changes.

Introduction of the Accredited Grain Surveyor Assurance (AGSA) scheme

The proposed AGSA scheme is designed to provide greater assurance that marine surveyors:

  • performing vessel surveys are qualified consistent with the Plant Rules
  • are performing surveys consistent with the Plant Rules.

The proposed AGSA scheme will be administered by AIMS. 

Both AIMS members and non-members may apply to AIMS to be accredited under the AGSA scheme. More information will be provided on how and when to apply for AGSA scheme accreditation at a later date.

The annual accreditation fee will be $250, with an application fee of $90 will apply for the initial application, per marine surveyor. Accreditation must be renewed annually in line with Plant Rules qualification requirements. 

The fees will facilitate assessment of applications and ongoing management of marine surveyors’ accreditations by AIMS.

A publicly available list of accredited marine surveyors will be provided on the AIMS website. Accredited marine surveyors will also be provided with identification cards as evidence of their annual accreditation.

The proposed changes would also clarify the qualification requirements for marine surveyors and:

  • allow for recognition of Master grade (Unlimited) Certificate of Competency qualifications that marine surveyors previously held (under Schedule 1 of Marine Order 71 (Masters and deck officers) 2014)
  • incorporate express work experience requirements in addition to qualification requirements.

To be accredited it is proposed that marine surveyors:

  • hold or have held a Master grade Certificate of Competency as outlined under Schedule 1 of Marine Order 71 (Masters and deck officers) 2014 made under the Navigation Act 2021; and
  • have served 6 months on a vessel >3000GT and 12 months in the capacity of Master.

OR

  • hold a Diploma of Marine Surveying with successful completion of a module on Dry Bulk Cargoes and a module on Grain Operations; and
  • have at least 5 years marine survey experience.

In addition to be accredited marine surveyors must continue to have:

  • performed at least 10 bulk vessel surveys within a period of 2 years accompanied by another person who was an accredited marine surveyor; and
  • performed at least 1 bulk vessel survey each year for 3 years.

These proposed changes:

  • better reflect the qualification and experience of marine surveyors performing bulk vessel surveys for Australia’s plant product exports
  • will provide greater assurance that new marine surveyors can perform vessel surveys safely and compliantly.

Once the AGSA scheme commences, exporters and shipping companies must source accredited marine surveyors to perform bulk vessel surveys.

BVI AOs will confirm marine surveyors are accredited when performing bulk vessel inspections and prior to approving the vessel for loading. 

Marine surveyor certificates from non-accredited surveyors will not be accepted by BVI AOs.

Further information and changes to instructional material will be provided to support BVI AO, exporter, marine surveyor and industry familiarisation and understanding of the changes.

Seeking your feedback

We want to hear your thoughts on the proposed changes effecting bulk vessels for export.

You can provide feedback on the 2 proposed changes via your relevant peak industry body or by emailing plantexportreform@awe.gov.au.

Preliminary feedback closes on 11:59PM AEST on Sunday, 12 September 2021.

An additional formal public consultation process is scheduled for late September 2021. Stakeholders will be provided details on this consultation process closer to the date.

Keep informed

Further information can be found in the PEOM, and at Improving Agricultural Export Legislation.

If you want to receive updates on the changes to plant export legislation, we suggest registering to receive IANs.

Contact us

Email plantexportreform@awe.gov.au.

Last reviewed: 26 August 2021
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