Commercial and non-commercial use
Figure 5.23 Ship anchorages and traffic, 2000, 2006 and 2012
The number of ship voyages through the Region has increased markedly over the last decade. Each polled ship position for the year is marked by a green dot. Source: Polled ship positions from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority for 2000138, 2006139, 2012140
Cruise ships comprise a minor component of the commercial vessels transiting the Region, representing only 1.5 per cent of the commercial vessel calls to Great Barrier Reef ports in 2011–12.90 The cruise shipping industry is predicted to grow over coming decades.141 Super yachts — large, high-value, luxury vessels — visit the Region. Their numbers are likely to increase into the future underpinned by an increasing number being based in the Asia/Pacific region and by recovering cruising and charter activity across the international market. Management There are stringent management arrangements for commercial shipping in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, which is designated a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area by the International Maritime Organisation.
Figure 5.24 projected shipping increases at major ports, 2012–2032
The category ‘all commercial vessels’ includes coal carriers, bulk carriers, container carriers, vehicle carriers, general cargo ships, tankers and cruise ships. Fishing, other tourism and recreational vessels are not included. The graph is based on projections of 4.8 per cent annual growth for all commercial vessels and 7.2 per cent annual growth for coal vessels. It is recognised that these projections may be higher than the eventual shipping traffic, depending on variables such as economic conditions. Source: Polglaze, Griffin, Miller and Associates 2012136
The risks of shipping are closely managed.
Shipping traffic is largely confined to a designated shipping area in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Figure 5.23). For ships over 70 metres, and loaded oil tankers, chemical carriers and liquefied gas carriers (irrespective of length), there is compulsory pilotage for the inner route of the Great Barrier Reef (north of about Cairns), Hydrographer’s Passage and in and around the Whitsundays. Mandatory ship reporting improves navigational safety, reduces the risk of shipping incidents and minimises any resulting ship-sourced pollution in the Region. The REEFVTS monitors ship movements in the Region and provides safety information and navigational assistance.