Proposed Waterway Rule Changes for the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers

Have your say on proposed waterway rule changes for the waters of the Yarra River upstream of the port waters of The Port of Melbourne and for the Maribyrnong River upstream of Shepherd Bridge on Footscray Road. 

Parks Victoria is in the process of updating the current waterway rules as outlined in the Vessel Operating and Zoning Rules (VOZR), for the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers, with the aim to improve and manage safety.


An overview of the proposed waterway rules are as follows:

Allocation of moorings and berths: 
The current waterway rules (VOZR) listed under item 3.3 Prohibition of Specified Activities for the purposes of Clause 12, for the Yarra have been updated to include anchoring as a prohibited activity and removal of the current berthing table, as it is outdated and does not allow for changes to berthing locations or restrictions. Regulations to the Maribyrnong River have also been changed to align with this.

Exclusive use and special purpose areas for the purposes of Clause 13:
Parks Victoria have removed the section where a light in accordance with Rule 25 of the International Rules for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 is appropriate. This Rule 25 allows for a vessel under oars to exhibit the lights prescribed in this Rule for sailing vessels, but if they do not, they shall have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent a collision. With the increase in users on the river Parks Victoria want the safest operating model to apply to minimise risk, in this case ensuring vessels are always displaying lights takes a proactive rather than a reactive role to avoid a collision.

Speed limit for vessels without an engine used for propulsion – 12-month trial period:
Vessels without an engine used for propulsion along with accompanying coach vessels will be permitted to operate at a speed not exceeding 8 knots, when engaged in formal training. This is an increase for this activity from the current 5 knots regulation for 12 months.

Operating during flood events:
In response to climate change and the ever-increasing flooding events Parks Victoria have included a flood regulation, with the aim to minimise risk to all river users if vessels are not safe to operate within flood water conditions.

Transiting bridges:
Vessels travelling downstream unofficially have right of way when transiting through bridges, as this is the currently best operating model for safety. But as more and more inexperienced users emerge, formalisation of this rule will allow for education and enforcement, to ensure safe operating by all river users. Overtaking will also not be permitted when transiting bridges, unless in an emergency to achieve the same safety goal.

Consultation is open from 4 January to 11 February 2024. Your feedback will be considered and will help inform a recommendation to the Safety Director (Safe Transport Victoria).  You can have your say via email at [email protected]


VRFish would like to hear your views so that we can incorporate your ideas into a submission from VRFish. You can do this by dropping us a line at [email protected]

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