Maritime transport safety officers

Maritime transport safety officers (TSOs) undertake compliance and enforcement activities.

We do not impose specific targets or quotas on maritime TSO compliance and enforcement activities. Remedial action is only undertaken when deemed necessary.

Maritime TSOs have the power to require a master of, or person operating, a vessel to:

  • Present safety equipment for inspection
  • Stop and/or move their vessel to a specific place
  • Provide their name and address if an offence is believed to have occurred
  • Produce their marine licence or, in certain circumstances, other identification

TSOs can serve infringement, improvement or prohibition notices.

Read about our Marine Enforcement Policy.

Compliance activities

We conduct a range of audits to ensure that duty holders are complying with their obligations under marine safety legislation.

We may conduct audits either on a random basis or as part of a risk-based compliance program. We also use audits to gather intelligence on safety awareness and culture within Victoria's recreational boating community.

We undertake compliance activities in situations where a particular safety problem will be best treated by exercising enforcement powers. This doesn't mean that we will only use enforcement tools to treat a problem; it is normal practice for these tools to be used in conjunction with providing advice and guidance. Read about our range of regulatory tools.

What to expect

When interacting with you, maritime TSOs will:

  • Display a TSO identity card
  • Listen courteously and respectfully
  • Respond to your questions in a timely manner
  • Resolve issues fairly, efficiently and consistently

What we expect

Maritime TSOs ask that you:

  • Focus on the issue and listen courteously and respectfully
  • Answer questions honestly and communicate clearly
  • Cooperate in the resolution of issues
  • Understand that complex issues may take some time to resolve

External TSOs

To enhance our ability to undertake compliance and enforcement activities across Victoria's waterways, enforcement staff of other government agencies are appointed as maritime TSOs, including:

Before being appointed as an external maritime TSO, individuals are required to demonstrate that they are suitably qualified, trained and have a sound understanding of the responsibilities and limitations of the role that they are appointed to undertake.

External maritime TSOs are delegated a limited range of powers dependent on a variety of factors, including the nature of the issues and risks on their waterway and their employing organisation's degree of activity as a waterway manager. This ensures that they only have the powers necessary to undertake compliance functions relevant to the activities being undertaken on the waterways they manage.

In relation to the commercial vessel fleet, the focus of external maritime TSO activities is on compliance with waterway rules.

In this video, maritime TSO Sean explains our role and responsibilities and what to expect should you encounter us out on the water when boating, kayaking or riding a PWC.

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