Govt rejects calls for reef protection
THE Federal Government has rejected calls for more funding to protect the reef following the near-collision of the bulk carrier ID Integrity near Osprey Reef earlier this month.
Federal Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which he established as a national body just this year, has emergencies covered.
“AMSA has commercial arrangements in place to ensure emergency towage capacity is in place for Australia’s entire 60,000km coastline,” he said.
“There are a number of emergency response vessels under contract with AMSA in Queensland and around Australia that are able to be mobilised immediately following a notification of a distress situation.
“The ETV Pacific Responder is the only designated, AMSAowned emergency response vessel in Australia and it is located in the Torres Strait and Great Barrier Reef regions to provide an extra level of protection to the surrounding sensitive marine environment.”
With an increase in shipping traffic around the GBR, Mr Albanese said AMSA has established a number of protection measures to protect the northern waters.
“There are a number of protection measures in place that are unique to the area, including ship routing measures, the Reef Vessel Traffic Service which monitors vessel movements to prevent collisions, groundings and other incidents,” Mr Albanese said.
“Also there’s the largest con- centration of AMSA’s Aids to Navigation network in Australia and compulsory coastal pilotage in navigationally challenging areas and under keel clearance management system allowing pilots to successfully navigate through the Torres Strait’s diverse conditions.
“AMSA is working with the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Maritime Safety Queensland to review shipping management practices in the north east of Australia with a focus to enhance protection measures as shipping traffic increases.
“ETV (Emergency Tug Vessel) capacity is one of a range of measures that is under ongoing consideration and analysis.”
An AMSA spokeswoman said there has been a low percentage of accident in the last three years.
“With more than 8000 vessel movements in the GBR each year and only one major incident in the past three years, the existing management arrangements have been extremely effective,” she said.
“Breakdowns are not uncommon and all incidents have had the same outcome as the ID Integrity.”