Temporary exemptions and exclusion zones

If you want to conduct boating activity or hold an on-water event, you may need an exemption or a modification from a rule to do so. This page explains what boating activity exemptions (BAE) and exclusion zones are; when they are required; and how to apply for them.

It also lists temporary rule changes and exclusion zones on unmanaged waterways and waterways managed by Maritime Safety Victoria.

Read about on-water event managers' safety duties and code of practice.

Definition of boating activities and on-water events

Marine safety legislation and rules are designed to provide for a safe operating environment for a wide range of general boating and on-water activities.

Organised boating activities and on-water events range from sport, to entertainment and even cultural gatherings. They can be commercial ventures, club-based competition or provide a not-for-profit experience for the community. They may be high profile attracting media attention, have a national or international focus or be local volunteer driven.

The organisers may provide their own event team members, or outsource some functions to contractors. Each activity or on-water event is unique and poses its own specific safety risks.

What is a boating activity exemption (BAE)?

A boating activity exemption (BAE), granted under section 203 of the Marine Safety Act 2010, allows a person or event organiser to conduct organised boating activity or an on-water event or series of events on State waters that would, otherwise, be in contravention of a relevant law, rule or regulation.

A BAE is temporary and can exempt the activity or event from the application of the:

When is a BAE required?

If you want to conduct boating activity or hold an on-water event and need an exemption or a modification from a rule to do so a BAE is required for the duration of the event. Common exemptions include:

  • 'Vessels racing in close proximity' requires an exemption for vessels exceeding 5 knots within 50 metres of another vessel
  • 'Skiers racing in close proximity to vessels' requires an exemption for vessels exceeding 5 knots within 50 metres of a person in the water (in the event of a fall)
  • 'Vessels operating in close proximity to on-water infrastructure' requires an exemption to exceed 5 knots within 50 metres of a fixed or floating structure.
  • 'Vessels operating in close proximity on a narrow river and under bridges' requires exemptions for vessels exceeding 5 knots within 50 metres of another vessel, within 50 metres of the water's edge and within 50 metres of a fixed or floating structure
  • High speed vessels with fire suppression and/or bilge pump systems installed may require an exemption from carrying safety equipment such as a fire extinguisher and bucket
  • Persons competing in an organised sporting event that find wearing a lifejacket restrictive and/or impractical may require an exemption from wearing a lifejacket
  • An event held in an area that has a speed or other rule restriction may require an exemption from the specific waterway rule as detailed in the VOZR.

Exclusion zones

The waterway manager may grant 'exclusive use' of an area of waterway to an applicant by establishing an exclusion zone under section 208 of the MSA. An exclusion zone is used to prohibit persons, vessels and all other activities from a specific area of water to create the exclusive area where an activity/event can take place. Exclusion zones can only be created in conjunction with an exemption.

An exclusion zone is a form of control measure that can help keep other persons and vessels away from a higher risk activity/event, and also help control an activity/event by keeping the participants in the specified area for the duration of an event(s). They are typically used for high risk or high speed events.

How to apply

If you wish to apply for a temporary waterway rule change, exemption or an exclusion zone for an on-water event, boating activity or works, you must apply to the relevant waterway manager, port or local port management body for waters under their control or to Maritime Safety Victoria if there is no waterway manager.

In order for waterway managers to meet the requirements, including assessment, notification to TSV, government gazette and newspaper notices, we recommend that you lodge your application a minimum of three weeks - and ideally six weeks - before an event.

How will my application be processed?

Any request for an exemption from or modification to legislation or rules requires an assessment of risk related to the proposed activity (and the exemption requested), and the control measure(s) proposed to mitigate that risk(s) due to the exemption or modification.

An application will not be considered to be complete until all components of the application have been provided. A complete application includes the following:

  • All relevant sections of the form are completed
  • All relevant documents as per the application are submitted
  • Any additional information requested by the waterway manger is submitted within the requested timeframe.

Current exemptions or works notices

Current declarations and notices relating to temporary rule changes, exemptions and/or waterway closures for boating activity, special events or works on, over or under waters, for waterways where we are the waterway manager or where no waterway manager is appointed.

Trial exemption from registration and licensing requirements for low-powered electric paddle craft

Until 2020

Victorian paddlers who wish to fit a low-powered electric motor  to their craft, or have already done so, will be exempt from vessel registration and marine licensing requirements during a trial from 1 January 2018.

Life Saving Victoria IRB calendar 2019

May-June 2019

Various locations

Childers Cove - exclusion zone

3-30 May 2019

Around wreck of Patricia Mary

Snowy River - exclusion zone

29 April - 6 May 2019

Waters east of Marlo  jetty

Big Wave Risk Assessment

14-15 April 2019

Fishermans Beach Torquay

Sydenham Inlet – exclusion zone

28 March 2019 to 4 April 2019

Entrance opening

Kite Wave Event Series 2019

2019 - Dates TBC

Thirteenth Beach, Torquay

2019 Rip Curl Pro - Bells Beach

April 2019

Personal watercraft (PWC) operators are exempt from certain rules during the surfing event, subject to conditions.

Great Ocean Paddle

February 2019

Waters between Anglesea and Torquay, 3 February 2019 (back-up date 2 February 2019).

View the Great Ocean Paddle exemption notice DOCX, 175.0 KB

Filming at Kitty Miller Bay Beach, Phillip Island

January 2019

An exemption applies 25 to 28 January 2019.

2019 Lorne Pier to Pub

January 2019

Waters of Loutit Bay, Lorne, 12 January 2019 (back up date 16 February 2019).

GKA Kite-Surf World Cup

December 2018

Waters of Bass Strait, Torquay, 12-16 December 2018.

Kiteboarding Australia Kite Surf National Titles

December 2018

Coastal waters off Point Danger, Torquay, 7-10 December 2018.

Life Saving Victoria 2018-19 calendar events


Coastal waters, various dates.

The Impossible Paddle Race 2018 - Waters between Torquay and Barwon Heads

November 2018

Event participants are exempt from certain speed and distance rules, 8am-1.30pm on 3 November 2018 (back up date 4 November 2018).

Fireworks Sunraysia - Lake Ouyen

October 2018

The waters of Lake Ouyen are prohibited to all persons and vessels not associated with the Fireworks Sunraysia display.
This exclusion zone takes effect between 10am - 10pm on Friday 5 October 2018.

50 Year Storm Invitational - Bells Beach

August 2018

The exemptions apply for one day between 1 June to 31 August 2018 between the hours of 6.00 am and 6.00 pm provided that the stated safety controls and undertakings detailed in the Application for Boating Activity Exemptions and associated documents are adhered to. Confirmation of the date of the event will be posted on the Surfing Victoria website.

Exclusion zone: Golden Beach, East Gippsland

Photo of a rowing regatta