Embargo notices, directions and detention of unsafe vessels

If a police officer has reason to believe that a recreational or hire and drive vessel has been involved in committing a relevant offence, he or she can:

  • Issue an embargo notice for up to 48 hours prohibiting any person from operating the vessel
  • Prohibit the master from operating the vessel for up to 24 hours or require the master to move the vessel to the nearest landing place,

Maritime Safety Victoria and Victoria Police also have a general power to direct that a vessel:

  • Must not be operated on State waters
  • May only be operated on State waters on specified conditions for a specified period.

Additionally, if it appears a vessel is unsafe, we may order the vessel to be provisionally detained and then investigate and report on the condition of the vessel and its equipment. On receipt of the report we may:

  • Order the release of the vessel if found that the vessel is safe or
  • Order the vessel to be finally detained either absolutely or until conditions necessary to ensure the vessel's safety if it is found that the vessel is still unsafe.

Generally, it may be appropriate to use directions and notices of this nature when:

  • The immediate safety circumstances of the alleged offending are serious enough (based on available evidence in terms of the gravity of risks, potential/actual harm) that the direction or notice is necessary to protect public interest in marine safety
  • The proposed direction or notice is the measure most likely to effectively address the immediate risk to safety, is proportionate to the level of dangerous operation or other offence, or is likely to increase the chance of future compliance
  • The relevant circumstances of the duty-holder (for example in terms of their motivation / capacity / history) are serious enough to warrant the direction or notice.

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