Cocos Lagoon now designated as 'partially smooth'

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Number: D60/2018

Date: 16 October 2018

Relevant: Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Topic: Community Information – Notification of reclassification of waters within CKI Lagoon

In May 2018, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (ASMA) sought feedback on the proposed Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI) Designation of Waters Ordinance 2018 (the Ordinance) to designate the waters within the CKI Lagoon as ‘partially smooth waters’ for the purposes of schedule 1 of the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law 2012 (the National Law). The new Ordinance commenced on 4 October 2018. The Ordinance and a chart outlining the area now designated as partially smooth is attached.

Benefits to domestic commercial vessel operators in CKI Lagoon

Reclassifying the waters in the lagoon will have benefits for the community, including local tourism operators, by making it less onerous to meet vessel survey requirements and enabling smaller ‘non-survey’ vessels to access a number of AMSA’s general exemptions, including Exemption 02, Exemption 03, Exemption 38, and Exemption 40.

Previously, owners of Class 2, 3 or 4 vessels that are less than 12 metres in length (or less than 7.5 metres in the case of Exemption 03) operating in the Lagoon have been ineligible to access these general exemptions. These vessels were required to hold a National Law certificate of survey and certificate of operation, or apply to AMSA for a specific exemption. These arrangements have restricted the operational flexibility intended to be provided under the National Law framework.

Owners of Class 2, 3 and 4 vessels can now access the regulatory requirements available to operators of like domestic commercial vessels operating on similar waterways on and around Australia’s mainland.

Owners of vessels eligible under Exemption 02 (division 2, 3, 4 or 6) need to apply to AMSA for the exemption and the vessel needs to meet the design, construction and equipment standards for non-survey in NSCV Part G. Operators can apply for non-survey approval by completing AMSA’s online application form AMSA579.

Owners of vessels eligible for Exemption 40 can apply for approval by completing AMSA’s online application form AMSA523.

No application is required to operate without a certificate of operation under Exemption 03.

Additionally, owners of vessels that are ineligible for an exemption from the survey need only to meet the construction and equipping standards that apply to vessels operating in partially smooth waters, rather than the requirements of the restricted offshore operations designation (C waters, which automatically applied to the CKI Lagoon). These vessels must be surveyed by an accredited marine surveyor. A list of surveyors is available on the AMSA website.

More information

For more information on the requirements that apply to domestic commercial vessels operating in CKI waters, please contact AMSA Connect on 1800 627 484, or email Mr Chris Battel, AMSA Liaison Officer (Region West) at

Harriet Spring
Indian Ocean Territories Branch
16 October 2018