Review highlights record shipping growth and safety on Queensland coast

Queensland’s trade coast is thriving, with new data revealing a record number of ships visiting the state and the lowest number of incidents in years.

A review of the North-East Shipping Management Plan has revealed more than 50,000 vessel movements along Queensland’s north-east over a five-year period, with only two minor incidents recorded.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said increased trade in Queensland meant the number of carriers, cargo vessels and passenger ships travelling through the state’s waters had grown 2.6 per cent.

“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.

“The data shows that not only are more ships are visiting Queensland, but they’re larger too. This means we’re exporting and importing more, which can only mean good things for Queenslanders.

The report revealed bulk carriers remained the primary ship type, with rises in the number of liquefied gas tankers and passenger ships.

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to growing our 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.

“We’re also delivering 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.

Mr Bailey said he expected trade on Queensland’s coast to continue growing with global demand for hydrogen increasing, and the market expected to reach $US155 billion by 2022, much of that will be driven by Asia-Pacific markets.

“Our government has developed the $19 million Queensland Hydrogen Industry Strategy 2019–2024, which positions us to become a hub for hydrogen technology development and export.

“This is on top of LNG pipeline the Palaszczuk Government backed and built, which is now a $60 billion industry providing thousands of jobs to Gladstone.

Mr Bailey said the report demonstrated that together with federal shipping authorities, the Palaszczuk Government’s maritime safety branch is making sure Queensland’s waters and the Great Barrier Reef are a number one priority.

“Maritime Safety Queensland operates ReefVTS, which tracks and monitors ship movements in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait and intervenes where it sees a potential situation developing.

This system has proven effective in ensuring ships travel safely through our pristine waters, with only two minor incidents in the five years since we developed the plan.

These minor incidents occurred in 2014 and 2017, and involved interactions between a ship and fishing vessel.

“The Palaszczuk Government’s initiatives are working, but we know there’s plenty more we can be doing to as our economy and the number of ships leaving and arriving at our shores continues to grow.

The review of the shipping management plan has now recommended proposals such as investigating the benefit of putting pilots on more ships and expanding the services ReefVTS provides to reef shipping routes.

Other significant features of the enhanced plan include assessing the risk of whale interaction in and around the southern entrance to the reef, ensuring emergency towing is available to respond to a major incident and readiness to respond to ship-sourced oil and chemical spills.

Maritime Safety Queensland will continue to work with state and federal agencies in consultation with the shipping industry to ensure shipping within the Reef continues, is safe, risks are minimised, and there are no environmentally damaging incidents.

The Review of the North-East Shipping Management Plan is available at

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