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New measures to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
MEDIA RELEASE The Hon Anthony Albanese MP Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government
18 April 2010 AA230/2010
New Measures To Protect The Great Barrier Reef
The system requiring all ships to regularly report their location and route to authorities, backed up by real-time radio and satellite tracking of their progress, will be extended to the southern portion of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
This action is based on advice from the nation's independent safety regulator, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). Once implemented it will improve maritime safety and provide further protection for one of our most precious environmental assets.
The Australian Government will now submit its proposal to extend the mandatory Ship Reporting System to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for their agreement. This process of ratification is required by the fact that around 55 per cent of the proposed new coverage area is beyond Australia's territorial waters.
In the meantime, AMSA in conjunction with Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) will begin rolling out the infrastructure necessary to support the reporting system such as sensors, communications equipment and modified navigational software. By beginning this work now, our authorities will be fully ready for the start of mandatory reporting in July 2011.
In 1997, the IMO approved a mandatory ship reporting system for that portion of the Marine Park north of Latitude 22 degrees south (south of Mackay).
In addition, we have also initiated a review of the offences under the relevant maritime and environmental legislation, with a view to toughening the penalties for breaches.
Our aim here is simple: to further deter shipping companies and their crews from engaging in unsafe and irresponsible actions at sea, particularly near environmentally sensitive marine ecosystems.
AMSA also considered the option of extending pilotage, concluding that the package of additional measures being announced today is the most effective way forward.
The Australian Government, in partnership with the Queensland Government, is determined to do all we can to reduce the risk posed to the Reef by shipping.
Regulatory Measures in Place for shipping in the Great Barrier Reef include: