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Guide 3. Adhering to marine laws

Worldwide, Australia is recognized as a destination to safely enjoy wildlife and nautical exploration. As Australian citizens and boat operators, we are required to preserve this global respect by adhering to marine laws and protocol. Here are some regulations you should be aware of and follow while travelling on our waterways.

Anyone who drives a personal watercraft at any speed must be able to show a PWC license. There are a range of licenses required for boat operators depending on age, purpose, machinery, vessel types, and lengths of time. A licensed young adult driver must be accompanied by a general licensed adult while operating the boat. Contact your local maritime office for more details on how to apply for a license. Taking maritime classes can also qualify you for marine insurance discounts.

New South Wales



Speed limits
For the safety of your passengers, other people in the water, and marine life it is essential for you to adhere to speed limits while operating a vehicle in the water throughout all Australian states. If you don’t abide by the speed rules while driving your boat, you can face monetary penalties or suspension of your boat license.

Alcohol and drugs
In New South Wales, random breath testing is conducted on boat operators to ensure water safety. Unless your vessel is anchored or docked, it is an offence for your alcohol limit to be over 0.05 if you are a recreational boat operator over the age of 18 years. Serious penalties for breaking this law include $1100-$5500 in fines and a possible 2 year imprisonment. Australian courts may suspend or revoke your boat operator’s license if you are found guilty of boating under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs.

Distance regulations
It is against the law for you to navigate your boat within an unsafe distance of people in the water. Violation of this law can result in the cancellation of your license and a minimum fine of $320.

Military ships
It is illegal to try to drive within 60 meters of the side and 200 meters of the bow of a naval vessel while in motion. If the naval vessel is docked, you must remain at least 60 meters from any part of the ship. Violation of this law will face penalties.

Waste disposal
Emptying waste and polluting any Australian waterway is an offence. Garbage on vessels should be properly stored on board and disposed of once you reach shore.

Ecosystem and wildlife
Australian waterways sustain the life of our ecosystem. Many species are native to Australia. Coral reefs are extremely fragile and easily destroyed by boats and pollution. We must protect our marine wildlife by safely navigating the waters when operating vessels.

Keeping these laws in mind while navigating your vessel not only protects you and your passengers, but also preserves the marine wildlife which keeps the Australian ecosystem balanced.


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