Commerical vessels, cruise ships and ships on international voyages
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 Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. 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.
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 kilometre 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 kilometre 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 kilometre 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 kilometre from the boundary of the Marine Park.
- Any greywater or vessel sewage is not discharged when operating within the Whitsundays Plan of Management area.
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.
If you're heading out on the water, don't forget your free Zoning Map so you know where you can go and what you can do.
The Great Barrier Reef is a hive of activity. If you're lucky enough to see a humpback whale from May to September, make sure you keep a safe distance.
We're delighted to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park's World Heritage listing.
Visit our Great Barrier Reef and discover its amazing plants, animals and habitats. There are a range of tourism experiences on offer.
Everyone has a role to play in protecting our Great Barrier Reef. Find out what you can do to help protect this Great Australian icon.
If you see sick, dead or stranded marine animals please call RSPCA QLD 1300 ANIMAL
(1300 264 625)
A Vulnerability Assessment: of the issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.