Transit zones and shipping channels

Transit only zones, shipping channels and their approaches are high shipping hazard areas.

Small boat operators should exercise caution and steer well clear in these areas.

Transit only zone

A transit only zone is a regulated area of water in the vicinity of a commercial shipping channel or fairway. Recreational craft must not anchor or drift within the Transit Only Zone. 

The purpose of designating a transit only zone is:

  1. To avoid potential collisions between small boats and large commercial ships
  2. For the safety of small boat operators and their passengers 

A transit only zone in Port Phillip Bay extends from Point Gellibrand (Williamstown) south to an imaginary line at latitude 38° South. Yellow "special mark" light buoys are used to define the boundary zone (see map below or refer to the Vessel Operating & Zoning Rules).

Map of the transit only zone in Port Phillip Bay, which extends from Point Gellibrand (Williamstown) south to an imaginary line at latitude 38° South. Yellow

Harbour Master's Directions

Harbour Master's Directions (HMDs) can include specific directions for recreational vessels to keep out of the way of ships and vessels engaged in port operations. In port waters the relevant harbourmaster may make special directions concerning the navigation and operation of recreational vessels. 

In port waters for Port of Geelong, Port of Melbourne and Port of Portland the following directions apply. 

The master of a vessel less than 25m in length shall ensure that the vessel keeps out of the way of:

  1. Vessels more than 25m in length
  2. A tug or launch assisting the movement, berthing or unberthing of another vessel
  3. The master of another vessel less than 25m in length shall ensure the vessel does not approach within 30m of a ship berthed at a tanker terminal. 

View the HMDs for the Port of Melbourne, or visit the Victorian Regional Channels Authority website for HMDs relating to the ports of Geelong, Hastings, Portland and Gippsland.

Photo of container ship