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Improved protection for the Great Barrier Reef.

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25 July 2002 A96/2002


The Federal Government will implement a package of measures to improve ship safety and environment protection in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, said today.

Mr Anderson was announcing the Government's response to the Review of Ship Safety and Pollution Prevention Measures in the Great Barrier Reef , which was carried out by senior officials from the Federal and Queensland Governments. Mr Anderson commissioned the review following the grounding of the Bunga Teratai Satu in November 2000.

"The Great Barrier Reef is a unique marine environment and one of Australia's greatest natural assets. It also contributes around $2 billion per year to the Queensland economy," Mr Anderson said.

"The Government has accepted the review's recommendations in principle, although some recommendations will require multilateral negotiation through the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

"We have established a Shipping Management Group to oversee the implementation of the recommendations. The group consists of the Department of Transport and Regional Services, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Transport. It is holding its first meeting today, and its first task will be to prepare a Shipping Management Plan for the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait."

"The other key recommendations of the review include:

international action to promulgate a compulsory pilotage regime in the Torres Strait; ●

further development of technology to assist ships transiting the Reef; and ●

enhanced ship routeing, traffic management and emergency response arrangements." ●

The recommendations are attached. The full report is accessible at

Media Contact: Bill McKinley 02 62777680 Paul Chamberlin 0419 233989 (travelling with the Deputy Prime Minister)




Recommendation 1

The review recommends establishment of an ongoing Great Barrier Reef Shipping Management Group, including executive representation from AMSA, the Commonwealth Department of Transport and Regional Services, Queensland Transport and GBRMPA, to carry forward the review's recommendations and to ensure ongoing clarification of roles and responsibilities of all relevant agencies involved with shipping operations in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait.

Recommendation 2

The review recommends that the GBR Shipping Management Group prepare a Shipping Management Plan as part of a three year rolling program of management for shipping in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait.

Recommendation 3

The review recommends that the Great Barrier Reef Shipping Management Group regularly update progress on the review initiatives and provide an annual report to their respective Ministers.

Recommendation 4

The review recommends the Great Barrier Reef Shipping Management Group develop a study of the economic, environmental and social impacts of shipping, including indigenous considerations, in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Torres Strait, to assist with the long-term management of the industry within the region.

Recommendation 5

The review recommends improved data sharing arrangements between relevant agencies and with island communities in Torres Strait on traffic monitoring and regular dissemination of information to local communities.

Recommendation 6

The review recommends that Australia should immediately initiate the process for seeking endorsement by the IMO for upgrading the current recommended pilotage area in the Torres Strait to compulsory pilotage and an extension of the GBR Particularly Sensitive Sea Area to encompass the Torres Strait to support introduction of compulsory pilotage.

Recommendation 7

In the interim, the review recommends a concerted campaign be conducted by AMSA and Queensland Transport to reinforce the existing recommended pilotage regime for all applicable ships transiting the Torres Strait. This could include notes on charts, reinforcement in Reef Guide, an international education campaign and advice by the Ship Reporting System to all ships operating in the region.

Recommendation 8

The review recommends that consideration be given to raising at the Australian Transport Council the proposal that any vessel transiting the Torres Strait and arriving at an Australian port will not be given access at that port unless a pilot was used throughout the passage through the Torres Strait.

Recommendation 9

The review recommends the promulgation of a recommended pilotage regime through IMO for the inner route and Palm and Grafton Passages.

Recommendation 10

The Review recommends that ships transiting the inner route of the GBR north of Cairns should be required to embark or disembark pilots at a new pilot boarding ground off Mourilyan.

Recommendation 11

The review recommends that shipping be further discouraged from transiting the Whitsunday Islands region by removing "preferred" routes for shipping through the area from charts.

Recommendation 12

This review recommends, as an intermediate step, the review of levies should also explore economic options to encourage greater usage of pilots.

Recommendation 13

The review recommends that an expert task force comprising AMSA, Queensland Transport, GBRMPA, training providers and pilot representatives undertake a reassessment of recruitment and licensing practices for coastal pilots. The task force should examine the training and qualification system for coastal pilots, including on the job specialised training and the potential for tiered levels of pilot licensing.

Recommendation 14

The review recommends that the proposed reassessment of recruitment and licensing of pilots should encompass the criteria for issuing pilot exemptions.

Recommendation 15

The review recommends that pilotage service providers continue to be expressly included in the regulatory framework covering coastal pilotage services. The review endorses the safety systems approach promulgated in the Great Barrier Reef Safety Management Code, which encompasses both pilots and pilotage service providers.

Recommendation 16

The review recommends that AMSA, GBRMPA and Queensland Transport undertake extensive promulgation of pilotage requirements to promote awareness of both compulsory and recommended pilotage zones.

Recommendation 17

The review recommends AMSA and Queensland Transport prepare by March 2002 an AIS implementation plan for the Great Barrier Reef for shipping participating in the Ship Reporting System. The plan should address the capacity for introducing a vessel management system within the Great Barrier Reef. A mid term review should be conducted in 2003-04 to take account of uptake of AIS by international shipping and technological advances.

Recommendation 18

The review recommends that the use of Inmarsat C be required for all vessels subject to mandatory reporting requirements, to complement other technologies in providing near real time positions for vessels throughout the Ship Reporting System. The voluntary use of Inmarsat C should be encouraged for all other vessels.

Recommendation 19

The review recommends that a reassessment of the role of REEFCENTRE should examine:

the upgrading of Ship Reporting System (SRS) monitoring capacity, with the potential for inclusion of a coastal Vessel Traffic Service providing a Navigational Assistance Service, ●

reporting points for the SRS, ●

operation of the alert system, ● restricted areas, and ● the impact of the planned adoption of AIS technology. ●

Recommendation 20

The review recommends improving radar coverage in the Torres Strait to enhance overall monitoring of shipping transiting this region, in consultation with indigenous communities. However, the review recommends this action only if other alternatives suggested in the report are unviable

Recommendation 21

The review recommends that ENC/ECDIS development be given the highest priority to complete the ENC for the Prince of Wales Channel, the Great North East Channel and the Inner Route of the Great Barrier Reef within a timeframe to be specified by the Ship Management Plan. This could involve either improving resources for the Hydrographic Office or the Hydrographic Office engaging commercial contractors to expedite the current rate of production.

Recommendation 22

The review recommends an extensive education and awareness campaign be commissioned to promote the benefits and uptake of ECDIS onboard ships.

Recommendation 23

The review recommends that work in assessing and developing the Fairway Channel should be accelerated, using the Australian Maritime College simulator, to confirm the advantages of adopting the Fairway Channel, and to determine the best route through the channel and the navigation aid configuration required to adequately mark that route.

Recommendation 24

The review recommends changing recommended tracks on charts to a two way route where traffic separation is suitable.

Recommendation 25

The review recommends declaration and widespread promulgation of MEHRAs for inclusion in ECDIS and through Reef Guide and for passage planning procedures.

Recommendation 26

The review recommends that AMSA, GBRMPA and Queensland Transport should conduct an international campaign to promote ship safety and environmental awareness in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait. This should include:

providing a copy of the Reef Guide booklet to every ship transiting the region; ● requesting the International Chamber of Shipping Guide environment page to include a section on the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait; and ●

other publicity in relevant international publications. ●

Recommendation 27

The review recommends that electronic charts should identify and mark areas of high fishing activity and that the REEFCENTRE give warnings to ships entering such areas.

Recommendation 28

The review recommends that AMSA, GBRMPA and Queensland Transport should reassess emergency response measures in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait. This should include the assessment of necessary salvage capacity and its operational location.

Recommendation 29

The review recommends the regular updating and extension of the existing Queensland Guidelines for the Provision of Safe Haven for Disabled or Damaged Vessels at Sea, in line with the latest developments in the IMO.

Recommendation 30

The review recommends that the National Plan for Responding to Pollution of the Sea by Oil and Other Hazardous and Noxious Substances (NatPlan) reassessment of ChemPlan currently being pursued should be extended to include assessment of the risk of a chemical spill within the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait.

Recommendation 31

The review recommends that it is inappropriate and impractical to impose constraints on certain ship or cargo types using the Inner Route.

Recommendation 32

The review recommends that Queensland Transport obtain forecast shipping schedules from all pilot companies for provision to REEFCENTRE.

Recommendation 33

The review recommends that submission of passage plans and prior notice of entry into the GBR region be introduced to enhance the Ship Traffic Information provided by REEFCENTRE.

Recommendation 34

The review recommends evaluation of all available data using AMSA's Ship Inspection Decision Support System to identify high risk ships operating in the Great Barrier Reef and to target port State control inspections if these ships call at Australian ports.

Recommendation 35

The review recommends strategies be developed to improve tracking and monitoring, and to notify shipping that access to ports will be denied for ships with particularly serious port State control records.

Recommendation 36

The review recommends that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau establish a confidential marine incident reporting system and develop mechanisms to relay relevant information to AMSA, REEFCENTRE, Queensland Transport and GBRMPA.

Recommendation 37

The review recommends support for IMO action in relation to phasing out single-hulled tankers and adopting interim measures to allow port States to deny entry to single-hulled tankers and for measures to improve protection against bunker fuel spills.

Recommendation 38

The review recommends that legal advice should be sought from the Office of International Law in the

Attorney-General's Department as to whether there is scope for Australia to exercise sovereign powers over the Prince of Wales Channel, given that it passes between Australian territory and falls within Australian internal waters.

Recommendation 39

The review recommends, as part of the proposed Shipping Management Plan, computerised jurisdictional maps should be compiled of the entire Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait area to enhance efficiency and certainty during responses to marine incidents.

Recommendation 40

The review recommends that, as part of the development of a Shipping Management Plan, the main regulatory agencies should examine the existing regulatory regime to rationalise and simplify the complex jurisdictional and legislative arrangements for regulating shipping in the Great Barrier Reef region.

Recommendation 41

The review recommends that, as part of the proposed Shipping Management Plan, the main regulatory agencies should bring forward coordinated proposals to improve powers of intervention, restitution and recovery of costs, offences and penalties.