The new Northeast Shipping Management Plan aims to manage projected shipping growth during the next 20 years. Australia faces international scrutiny for its management of the reef, as the region expects an increase in dry bulk shipping driven by coal demand in much of Asia. LNG projects close to Gladstone are also expected to increase shipping demand and cruiseships seek access to tropical waters.
In a statement, deputy Prime Minister and infrastructure minister Warren Truss said the new plan aimed to ensure that sensitive areas remain safe. “The strategy will aid ship safety and the prevention of ship-sourced pollution through a number of proposed measures, including more proactive traffic management services for high risk shipping areas,” he said.
“It includes additional protections for the Coral Sea, such as new ship routing measures to avoid collisions and groundings in vulnerable areas of the south west Coral Sea.”
The Vessel Traffic Service monitored almost 11,000 ship movements throughout the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait between 2012 and last year. There were no incidents recorded during that period.