The definition of Port Phillip Heads in the Marine Safety Regulations (MSR) has changed. Please make sure you are aware of the new operation rules, particularly that it is now mandatory to wear a lifejacket in the hatched red area...
Port Phillip Heads has long been a "designated hazardous area" where the rules of heightened risk apply. However, following a recent coronial inquest we reviewed the risks to safety for boating in the vicinity of the Heads. Recognising the various navigational hazards in the area, we sought an expansion to the area defined as Port Phillip Heads within the meaning of the MSR.
This amendment has now taken effect and the new definition of Port Phillip Heads in regulation 4 of the MSR is:
Port Phillip Heads means all the waters between an imaginary line drawn between Shortland Bluff and Point Nepean, and the seaward limits of an imaginary line consisting the arc of a circle with a radius of 3 nautical miles centred on Point Lonsdale.
This definition of Port Phillip Heads now includes the area at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, where conditions are known to present additional risks to vessels operating there. The defined area is shown in the diagram above.
Additional safety measures are imposed on vessels in designated hazardous areas, including mandatory wearing of lifejackets. When in an open area of a vessel (>12 metres) that is underway in this expanded area, all people on board must wear a Type 1 lifejacket (also known as Level 100+). Commercial operators are not affected as yet. Following a short transition period where our focus will be on educating boaters, we will start enforcing the law change with penalties for non-compliance.