Fuel and Oil

Pollution from fuels and oils can threaten our marine environment. If you handle fuel and oil in the Marine Park, you’ve got a huge responsibility to ensure that none of it winds up overboard. Please also remember that if you are in charge of a vessel, you have a legal responsibility to report any incident involving a pollution discharge or threat of discharge.

It’s not easy to mop up a fuel or oil spill when it’s in the water but it’s very easily prevented by following these simple, precautionary measures.

Responsible Reef Practices

In general

  • Train your staff in the appropriate procedures for handling, storage, spill response, and incident reporting. Have key information handy in the work place.
  • Conduct ongoing service, maintenance and equipment checks to ensure effective and efficient operation.
  • Where facilities are available, recycle used oil.
  • Review operations and procedures to ensure they are conducted in the safest and most workable manner.
  • Have an emergency spill plan and operational procedures for dealing with oil spills on board. Make sure all relevant staff members are trained in the procedures.

With fuel storage, transportation and refuelling

  • Use properly sealed containers to store and transport fuels and oils.
  • Ensure fuel storage and transfer areas have controls to contain spills (for example bunding).
  • Use and maintain appropriate dispensing equipment.
  • Supervise the operation of your fuel pump.
  • Be careful not to overfill your fuel tank.
  • Refuel onshore or in port rather than at sea, wherever possible – use proper equipment to minimise the risk of spills and have spill response equipment at the ready.
  • Adequately maintain a spill response kit and ensure that it’s easy to access.

With maintenance

  • Regularly clean the engine room/area and keep it oil-free.
  • Repair all leaks as soon as you notice them.
  • Check the bilge for oil before discharging any of its contents.
  • Use oil absorbent pads or towels to remove oil out of the bilge or other areas of the vessel. Don’t use a degreasing compound.
  • Pump out your bilge onshore, if the facilities are available, to licensed waste disposal contractors.
  • Dispose of waste products properly onshore – use the correct disposal bins, where available.


  • Please report all oil and fuel spills.

Marine Parks Legal Requirements

  • You must not discharge oil products within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
  • Ship-to-ship transfers of fuel, water, stores, produce and waste materials may require a permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and are regulated through a Marine Notice and specific Queensland safety legislation.
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