Ship monitoring and reporting

There are a number of monitoring and reporting systems in place to increase navigational safety and minimise shipping risks in the Great Barrier Reef.

Vessel traffic service

The Queensland and Australian governments established the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Vessel Traffic Service (REEFVTS) in 2004.

This service helps with safe navigation by:

  • monitoring ship movements in the REEFVTS area
  • giving timely, relevant and accurate information to ships
  • keeping a listening ‘watch’ on VHF channels
  • receiving information from masters through ship reporting requirements
  • responding to information requests, such as ship traffic and maritime safety matters.

REEFVTS is operated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Maritime Safety Queensland under joint federal–state arrangements.

Reef ship reporting system

The Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Ship Reporting System is mandatory and was introduced in 1997 as a measure to boost navigational safety.

Under the system, all ships greater than 50 metres in length and all tankers transiting the inner route of the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait must report their position and course to REEFVTS, via VHF radio, upon arrival at designated reporting points. These reporting points are located every 160 kilometres (100 miles) along the coast.

Australian ship reporting system

The Australian Ship Reporting System (AUSREP) is designed to increase safety of life at sea. Its primary purpose is to provide a search and rescue function. Certain ships are required to participate in the system while many others take part voluntarily.

The service shows which vessels are in the vicinity of a maritime emergency and are able to provide help.