Reminder on prohibition of operational discharges in the Great Barrier Reef

Concerned at the growing number of illegal discharge incidents occurring in the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has issued Marine Notice 14/2004 to the maritime industry. 

This notice outlines the obligations of ships passing through the area as defined in MARPOL 73/78. The Great Barrier Reef is exceptional in its definition within MARPOL and this Marine Notice provides guidance on this point. The Great Barrier Reef is not a “Special Area” as defined under the MARPOL Convention, but by being considered as “nearest land”, the Great Barrier Reef has discharge standards that are more restrictive than for Special Areas.  

“Nearest land” in this instance is defined as a line drawn between a series of co-ordinates encompassing the entire Great Barrier Reef and the shipping routes through the Torres Strait. The line of demarcation commences near the northern tip of Cape York, encompasses the Torres Strait, continues along the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef and rejoins the Queensland coast near FraserIsland 

Within the defined area all discharges, including all cargo and ship generated wastes, are prohibited. AMSA and the GBRMPA warn that any unlawful discharges will be pursued as far as possible under Australian law. 

Contact: Tim Wilkins