April 19, 2010
Australia seeks extension of Reef reporting system
Australia is to submit a proposal to IMO for an extension of the Great Barrier Reef mandatory ship reporting system, effective from July 2011.
The decision follows the grounding of the coal carrier Shen Neng 1, which caused extensive damage to the reef. It is based on advice from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
The system, which requires 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.
The extension must be approved by IMO because around 55 percent 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," said Australia's Minister for Transportation and Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese.
Mr. Albanese said he had also initiated a review of the offenses under the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 and the Navigation Act 1912, 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," said Mr. Albanese.
He said that AMSA had also considered the option of extending pilotage, but had concluded that the additional measures now being announced were the most effective way forward.