What does the Reef 2050 Plan mean for shipping?
Shipping plays an important role in Australia’s economy. We have the world’s fifth largest shipping assignment which represents around 10 per cent of the world’s seaborne trade. Australia also has some of the world’s most environmentally sensitive sea areas which ships must navigate to reach our ports. Nowhere is this more evident than the north-east region of Australia.
As part of the North-East Shipping Management Plan, Australian and Queensland Government agencies have implemented a range of actions to ensure shipping within the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and Coral Sea operates to the highest possible standard.
How does the Reef 2050 Plan relate to the North-East Shipping Management Plan?
The North-East Shipping Management Plan (NESMP) continues to be the main driver for identifying the priorities and actions to reduce impacts from shipping.
Reef 2050 Plan actions to reduce impacts from water-based activities include several additional actions relating to ports and shipping to be further researched through the review of the NESMP in 2023 including:
- reducing impacts of underwater noise on marine life
- expanding marine pest biosecurity research and development in partnership with ports, the shipping industry and communities
- reducing ship-sourced waste.
- Expanding the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Particularly Sensitive Sea Area to include an area of the South-West Coral Sea. This recognises the unique and vulnerable characteristics of the area and implements special protection measures, such as an area to be avoided and new ship routing systems to prevent, reduce, or eliminate risks from shipping activities
- Engaging with Torres Strait communities to improve boating safety, reduce vessel impacts on the environment, increase the survivability of persons lost at sea and support the development of the near coastal maritime industry.
- Establishing the National Strategy for Reducing Vessel Strike on Cetaceans and other Marine Megafauna. The strategy identifies species most at risk of vessel collision, areas where these species are most at risk and mitigation measures to reduce this risk. While the focus of the strategy is reducing the impacts of ship collisions, it also improves animal welfare and human safety and reduces damage to ships.
- Strengthening biosecurity associated with ship arrivals including regulatory reforms to reduce the risks of marine pests and the diseases they can carry from entering, establishing and spreading in Australian waters. The Marine Pest Plan aims to improve marine pest prevention, strengthen surveillance, enhance emergency response capability, support research and development, and strengthen stakeholder engagement.
- Developing ‘Fatigue guidelines—managing and reducing the risk of fatigue at sea’.
The Australian and Queensland governments will continue to work collaboratively with Reef 2050 Plan partners to implement the updated Reef 2050 Plan.
The North-East Water Space Management Working Group will meet biannually to discuss and report on the actions in the North-East Shipping Management Plan. The five yearly review of the Plan will start in 2023 and this will be aligned with the updated Reef 2050 Plan.
Other relevant plans, policies and resources
Key resources include:
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Dredging and Dredge Spoil Material Disposal Policy
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Dredging coral reef habitat policy
- Maintenance Dredging Strategy for Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Ports
- Master planning for priority ports
- Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy
- Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2018-2023
- Queensland Government Transhipping Regulation
- Ports Australia Port Sustainability Strategy Development Guide
- Ports Australia Environmental Code of Practice for Dredging