Australia’s Minister for infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, has announced new measures to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The first of the measures will extend the mandatory ship reporting system.
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.
An official announcement says: “This action is based on advice from the nation’s the 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 its 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 to 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.
There will aso be a review of the offences under the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution form Ships) Act 1983 and the Navigation Act 1912, with a view to toughening the penalties for breaches.
Says Albanese: “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 did consider extending pilotage, concluding that this package of additional measures being announced today is the most effective way forward.