GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
Ship safety is also improved by ship inspections conducted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority while vessels are in port. Between 2008–09 and 2012–13, the annual inspection rates for ships which visited ports in or adjacent to the Region, were between 58 and 66 per cent.135 The Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s safety regulatory responsibilities were extended in 2013 to include all foreign ships visiting Australian ports regardless of the nature or route of the voyages involved. There are designated anchorages with a total capacity for 154 ships adjacent to some ports (Figure 5.23). Including swing room, the anchorages cover about 1200 square kilometres. Some have defined anchor points, for example adjacent to the Port of Hay Point. There are special management arrangements for cruise ships accessing the Marine Park. In addition to requiring a Marine Parks permit, there is a booking system for cruise ships accessing planning areas and designated cruise ship anchorages in both the Cairns and Whitsunday planning areas. Marine park management arrangements for super yachts vary according to their size and whether the visit is for commercial purposes. Their management is guided by the Queensland Superyacht Strategy 2008–2013142 developed by the Queensland Government, in conjunction with industry and other stakeholders. Amendments to the International Maritime Organisation’s International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex V, which came into force on 1 January 2013, prohibit the discharge of garbage from any vessel into the sea (except under specific circumstances). In 2013, government agencies with jurisdiction over shipping activities in the north-eastern waters of Australia collaboratively developed the draft North–East Shipping Management Plan143 in preparation for predicted increases in shipping and the associated risks. The draft plan applies to the Great Barrier Reef, the Torres Strait and the Coral Sea (within Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone). It identifies potential risks such as collisions, groundings, release of air emissions and other pollutants, marine pest introduction, wildlife disturbance, altered aesthetic value, and wildlife collisions, as well as impacts on Indigenous, cultural and social values.
5.8.2 Benefits of shipping
Ships that transit the waters of the Great Barrier Reef provide a service to communities adjacent to the Region, transporting export and import cargo as well as visitors to the Region. Australia’s export trade carried through the Region (Section 5.5.2) has more than doubled since 2004–05.144 The economic activity generated by this shipping traffic provides a range of social and economic benefits to catchment communities and beyond. Cruise shipping and super yachts provide an important platform for the presentation of the Region’s values to both national and international visitors.
Shipping provides benefits to catchment communities and the nation.
5.8.3 Impacts of shipping
To date, the impacts of shipping have mainly related to: physical damage and pollution from toxic antifoulant paint as a result of ship groundings; small chemical spills; large and small oil spills; increased noise; vessel strikes on wildlife; vessel-based waste discharge; the introduction of exotic marine species; and marine debris.94 Despite the steady increase in shipping activity in the Region, the number of reported ship groundings and collisions has remained relatively stable in recent years (Figure 5.25).145 The introduction of additional management arrangements, such as extending the vessel traffic service to the southern boundary of the Region in 2011, has helped reduce the likelihood of these incidents.
Despite an increase in shipping activity, impacts are relatively stable.
Figure 5.25 Ship groundings and collisions, 1985–2013