The Queensland Government, led by Annastacia Palaszczuk as Prime Minister, plans to limit transhipping in the Great Barrier Reef region as part of a new policy.
The Great Barrier Reef is internationally recognized for its outstanding biodiversity and was the first coral reef ecosystem in the world to received world heritage status.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said the policy was developed in line with the requests from the public.
“Our transhipping policy recognizes the multiple pressures the Reef already faces and is a vital part of our government’s package of measures to protect it,” Enoch added.
“Our policy has also been developed after an astounding 97% of more than 2000 submissions during public consultation called for transhipping in the Great Barrier Reef region to be limited in the World Heritage Area and banned in the Marine Park.”
As explained, the new policy will prohibit transhipping within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and restrict transhipping operations in the World Heritage Area to areas that are declared ports only.
For transhipping that occurs outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, appropriate environmental authorities will also be required.
Under the policy, marine activities in the Great Barrier Reef region will be focused on existing ports, she said.
The policy complements the government’s commitments under the Reef 2050 Plan, released in July 2018. The plan outlines concrete management measures for 35 years to ensure the reef is preserved.
“It also adds to our suite of programs that are protecting the Great Barrier Reef, including a record AUD 330 million investment announced in this year’s Budget for field management programs and water quality initiatives,” Enoch said, adding the policy would not affect shipping of cargo loaded in Queensland’s declared ports.
“We are committed to avoiding unnecessary impacts on communities, and this is why the policy will not apply to the supply of essential services to remote communities, marine emergency response practices, the movement of cargo between vessels while docked in a port, and refuelling activities,” she said.
“In addition, the policy does not apply to packaged or containerized goods at any volume or to bulk materials where the quantity handled is under 100 tonnes per day.”
The Government of Queensland said it was developing necessary regulations and further consultation will occur once that is progressed.