Aquatic licences are required for events, competitions or activities which restrict the availability of navigable waters for public use. This applies for all sailing clubs that conduct either regular racing over a season or specific shorter length events or regattas.
Aquatic Licences are important because they help Maritime to safely coordinate multiple activities that overlap across a waterway which allows clubs conducting racing to operate under the Racing Rules of Sailing as opposed to the Collision Regulations.
Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has recently conducted a review into the way in which aquatic licence applications are managed, assessed and determined.
This review has resulted in a number of changes, to both the application form and the supporting documents required to accompany it. Applications will need to be completed on the new form and be lodged at least six weeks (previously four) prior to the commencement of the proposed activity.
Where an application relates to a complex or large-scale event, clubs should liaise with RMS well ahead of the proposed event date (up to 12 months in some circumstances).
Applications will also now need to be supported by an operational plan. The level of detail provided in the plan will depend on the complexity of the event but as a minimum will usually need to incorporate information that covers: Event schedule and management; Briefings and debriefings; Safety craft and equipment; Infrastructure requirements; Communications; Incident management and Risk assessment
Community and stakeholder consultation must also be conducted by the applicant before an Aquatic Licence will be granted. Where the applicant or their agent has not provided evidence of sufficient consultation, further engagement may be required by RMS. If approvals from local Councils or other agencies are required for any proposed activity, these approvals should be submitted to RMS with the application.
Prior to submitting an application, clubs should make themselves aware of their responsibilities as aquatic licence holders. In particular this includes indemnifying Maritime from any liability associated with the event, advising all participants whether they are covered by the clubs insurance and providing written risk warnings to all participants.
Conducting an activity without an Aquatic Licence where one is required or contravening the conditions associated with an Aquatic Licence could render the organiser liable to a penalty of $1500 under the Marine Safety (General) Regulation 2009, and could also result in litigation.
Yachting NSW can assist clubs with this process and has template Risk Management plans, Incident Management Plans and Risk Warnings available on the website for your use.
These new processes are now in effect. Details on the application process, along with application forms and other resources and details of fees can be found here: http://www.maritime.nsw.gov.au/rec_boating/aquatic_events.html.
or by contacting NSW Maritime on 131256.
Download form: Aquatic Licence Application Form
Approved Events: List of clubs and events with Aquatic Licences