Navigation Act 2012 comes into effect

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Staff of the Australian Hydrographic Service, Wollongong. (photo: )
Staff of the Australian Hydrographic Service, Wollongong.

It's the beginning of a new era, with the new Navigation Act 2012 coming into effect yesterday. The Act replaces the the century old Navigation Act 1912 with a contemporary legislative framework for maritime regulation.

The Act reflects changes in the maritime sector and is the primary legislative means for the Australian Government to regulate international ship and seafarer safety, shipping aspects of protecting the marine environment and the actions of seafarers in Australian waters. It also gives effect to the relevant international conventions to which Australia is a signatory.

Section 223 of the Act outlines the functions of the Australian Hydrographic Service (AHS) and provides the statutory obligation on Defence for delivering hydrographic services to meet the International Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.

Amongst the functions listed in the Act is the dissemination of nautical charts, hydrographic and other nautical information and publications for use in Australian waters.

The team responsible for distributing these products to chart agents and the Navy Fleet is led by Deborah Coulls, who said, “While International shipping is progressively transitioning to Electronic Navigation Charts the demand for paper charts has never been greater. We also publish regular updates to the Hydrographic website.”

The RAN’s Australian Hydrographic Service fulfils Australia’s obligations under the SOLAS Convention, by publishing official nautical charts and other hydrographic information required for safe navigation in Australian waters. A full listing of chart agents and products and services can be found at