Hi-tech tracking to provide reef protection on trade coast

A new multi-million dollar ship tracking system is set to steer ships safely along Queensland’s coast and ports.

With more than 50,000 vessels travelling along Queensland’s bustling trade coast over the past five years, the system dubbed Vessel Traffic Services is expected to provide unprecedented safety for both ships and the Great Barrier Reef.

The Palaszczuk Government will implement the technology at Queensland’s five Vessel Traffic Services centres in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Gladstone and Hay Point in coming weeks before expanding to cover the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait in mid-next year.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the new system will allow operators to provide detailed information to ship captains on sea conditions, ship traffic and potential hazards as well as be able to identify and intervene where developing situations dictate.

The new technology replaces the existing REEFVTS, and has been used across 70 of the world’s major ports including Rotterdam, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

“Shipping plays an important part in Queensland’s economy. Our ports at Gladstone, Rockhampton and Bundaberg have seen another record trade year with 124.8 million tonnes through those ports last financial year,” Mr Bailey said.

Earlier this year, a review of the North-East Shipping Management Plan revealed a record number of ships were visiting the state and the lowest number of incidents in years.

“This upgrade will enable even more effective monitoring of ship traffic throughout the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and Queensland Ports.”

The Palaszczuk Government has committed to growing its ports, tourism and trade, with $127 million now being invested to transform the Cairns Port into a cruise ship hub that will support up to 800 jobs during construction and up to 2,700 direct and indirect jobs by 2031.

That joins a $193 million upgrade for the Port of Townsville – the country’s largest sugar, zinc, lead, copper and fertiliser port – to secure freight supply chains, create jobs and reduce the cost of imports for the Queensland economy.

Maritime Safety Queensland General Manager Angus Mitchell said the new system would give Vessel Traffic Services operators the clearest and most up-to-date picture they had ever seen of shipping passing through the Great Barrier Reef.

“And it will also help predict and warn of potential problems – enabling authorities and captains to plan even safer journeys,” Mr Mitchell said.

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