Commerical vessels, cruise ships and ships on international voyages

Commercial vessels in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

The vessel sewage regulations for the Marine Park do not place any additional requirements on commercial vessels regarding vessel sewage. However, vessels undertaking commercial activities in the Marine Park generally require written permission from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and/or the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM). These permissions or permits may stipulate additional requirements for vessels to manage their sewage in some circumstances, for example, at tourist pontoons.

Maritime Safety Queensland has different requirements for commercial vessels. Please visit the Maritime Safety Queensland website.

Cruise ships in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

Cruise ships operating under a Marine Park permit must ensure that:
  • Greywater is only discharged when maintaining at least three nautical miles or 5.556 km distance from a reef, island or the mainland.
  • Treated sewage (from an International Maritime Organisation [IMO] approved plant) is only discharged when maintaining at least three nautical miles or 5.556 km distance from a reef, island or the mainland.
  • Macerated and disinfected sewage (from an IMO approved plant) is not discharged in the Marine Park. Ships may only discharge this type of sewage if located at least three nautical miles or 5.556 km from the boundary of the Marine Park (which is taken as 'nearest land' by the IMO).
  • Untreated or treated sewage (from a non IMO approved plant) must not be discharged into the Marine Park or an area at least 12 nautical miles or 22.224 km from the boundary of the Marine Park.
  • Any greywater or vessel sewage is not discharged when operating within the Whitsundays Plan of Management Area.
For more details on these requirements and the MARPOL definition of nearest land, please visit the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website.

Ships on international voyages

All ships engaged in international voyages (including cruise ships and trading ships) have to abide by obligations under Annex IV of the International Marine Pollution Convention (MARPOL 73/78).

For more details on these requirements and the MARPOL definition of nearest land, please visit the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website.