AUSTRALIA'S top maritime regulator visited Gladstone yesterday to talk face to face about a series of topics.

About 80 people from the maritime industry attended the event with Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) at CQUniversity.

The biggest topic was a sweeping national reform of maritime safety regulators that will see all the states adopt a uniform set of regulations under AMSA.

AMSA spokesperson Richard Wallace said the reforms would be a boost to the Australian economy as they would increase efficiency for operators.

And according to the man overseeing the project, the technology designed to save the Great Barrier Reef is up to the job.

Reef Vessel Tracking Service (VTS) manager Mike Bishop said the system had been extraordinarily successful, reducing shipping incidents by 90% since its introduction.

When the Chinese coal carrier Shen Neng hit a reef in 2010, it was not in an area covered by the VTS.

Since then the system has been extended to cover a massive area, including where the Shen Neng ran aground.

"If the VTS had been in place in that area, that incident probably would have been avoided," Mr Bishop said.

"Prior to the introduction of the Vessel Tracking System, there was nearly one grounding a year over the preceding eight or nine years.

"Since the system has been in place since 2004, there has only been one grounding in the area 8covered by VTS. That was a ship grounded on sand in the Torres Strait."


  • The Vessel Tracking Service tracks vessels through the reef on a route they must specify beforehand. If the ship deviates from the route, the alarm is sounded at VTS headquarters in Townsville and the ship's crew are alerted.

In case of emergency
If an environmental emergency happens on Gladstone Harbour, the Gladstone Ports Authority will be in charge, with collaboration from the Harbour Master and AMSA.

AMSA manager of salvage and intervention Joss Parsons deals with salvage operations around Australia.

She said if an oil spill or some similar emergency happened on the harbour, she would receive a call immediately and assume an advisory role for GPC.

AMSA has highest authority in emergencies on the Great Barrier Reef.

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