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Transcript of interview with Elanor Hall: ABC Radio's World Today program: 8 December 2010: greater protectsion for the Greate Barrier Reef

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Subjects: Greater protections for the Great Barrier Reef

  ELEANOR HALL: International authorities have agreed on stricter shipping conditions in the Great Barrier Reef, in an effort to prevent further accidents like this year's grounding of a Chinese coal carrier.

That accident off Gladstone smashed coral and caused more than 2,000 tonnes of oil to leak into the sea. Now ships travelling through this area will be tracked by radio and satellite and will be required to regularly report on their location and route.

Australia's Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese, told Annie Guest that he is also looking at tougher penalties for those who break the rules.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The International Maritime Organisation has agreed to extend the mandatory ship reporting system to the southern portion of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. That will take place from 1 July 2011, so that all ships, including those carrying oil, chemicals or liquefied gas will have to report their location and route to authorities as they transit through the park and the progress of each vessel will be continuously tracked by radio and satellite.

ANNIE GUEST: Australia has custodianship of the Great Barrier Reef. Some people might be confused as to why Australian authorities didn't extend this protection itself from the north to the south of the reef earlier?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well because some of the ocean out there is not in Australian territory, so we needed to make sure that it could be done properly which is why it required the approval of the International Maritime Organisation.


In addition to this, we'll be introducing legislation next year which will substantially increase the fines for any breaches, including increasing the fines for discharging oil into the sea from the existing $275,000 up to $10 million for a corporation and up to $2 million for an individual.

ANNIE GUEST: The first mate who was at the helm of the Shen Neng had only had two-and-a-half hours sleep in the previous day-and--half before the ship ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef. How will ship position reporting help fatigue issues?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well what it will ensure is that we can actually navigate and find out exactly where a ship is so that if any ship is going off course they can immediately be action taken because there'll be real time reporting of the location of a ship.

ANNIE GUEST: After the Shen Neng ran aground off Gladstone, some people called for compulsory pilotage on all ships travelling through the Great Barrier Reef. The ATSB (Australian Transport Safety Bureau) is continuing its investigations and the report isn't yet out.

What can you tell us about whether pilotage will become compulsory through the reef?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I will await the report but the advice I've had up to this point has been that compulsory pilotage would not resolve the issues. There has been issues in the past with pilots on board.

ANNIE GUEST: Minister, one government agency described the route taken by the Shen Neng as not the best practice route, can you tell us about any advice you've had on whether routes through the reef will be altered?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look I'll await the advice. I think it is important that politicians don't determine this, that the experts do.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese, speaking to Annie Guest.



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