AUSTRALIAN seafarers impacted by coronavirus will get an automatic six-month extension on their qualifications, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority says.

Deputy Prime Minister and transport and infrastructure minister Michael McCormack said the extension was one of many measures the government was taking to support the commercial maritime sector.

“The National Cabinet has made it clear – the Australian commercial maritime industry provides an essential service by ensuring the movement of critical goods and supplies continues throughout this challenging time,” Mr McCormack said.

“Everything we are doing as a government is about saving lives and saving livelihoods and we know how important Australia’s maritime industry is to both.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted some of the systems in place for seafarers to revalidate their qualifications and this extension offers a common-sense solution.”

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The certification regime ensures seafarers are qualified to operate commercial vessels enabling them to keep doing their essential work.

AMSA chief executive Mick Kinley said the regulator was committed to supporting the Australian commercial vessel industry.

AMSA CEO Mick Kinley. Credit: AMSA

“We already have a number of existing exemptions that might assist operators who find themselves unable to comply with the National Law due to COVID-19, including a temporary crewing permit and suspension of a certificate of survey to name just a few,” Mr Kinley said.

“AMSA can also issue specific exemptions to help operators and crew continue to operate in exceptional circumstances.”

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