Marine surveyors cover all areas of shipping activity ranging from ship design, construction, safety equipment and safe navigation, to marine pollution and the safe carriage and handling of sea-bound cargoes. Of the areas mentioned above, those which affect marine pollution and the safety of Australian registered ships and foreign ships visiting Australia are covered by regulations made under Commonwealth and State legislation. Most of these regulations are based on the requirements of international conventions, which are periodically ratified from time to time by various Australian governments.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the various state marine authorities are responsible for enforcing all marine pollution and ship safety requirements. Some of these functions have been delegated to classification societies and other approved persons, for example licensed compass adjusters. The majority of regulations are policed by marine surveyors employed by the authority.

Shipping activities not involving matters of marine pollution and safety are covered by marine surveyors employed by private companies.

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