A two-way shipping route in Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and Torres Strait has been formalised by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is in effect from 1 December 2014.

The IMO-adopted two-way route extends from the western end of Torres Strait, through the Prince of Wales Channel, the Great Barrier Reef Inner Route and terminates at the southern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said this will not change the way ships currently navigate in the region, but simply formalises the routes that have been in existence since the 1980s.

“The existing two way routes in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait have now been formalised by the IMO due to their role in enhancing the safety and efficiency of navigation and protecting the region’s sensitive marine environment,” Mr Kinley said.

“The two-way route in Torres Strait and the northern portion of the Great Barrier Reef is unchanged from what is currently charted.

“A new two-way route that follows existing traffic patterns has been introduced in the southern portion of the Great Barrier Reef.

“Two-way routes aim to reduce the risk of collisions and groundings by encouraging ships to follow well- defined lanes, separating north and south bound traffic and assisting ships keep clear of the reefs, shoals and islands in the area.

“This ship routeing system will also provide greater certainty to small vessels as to where they can expect to encounter large vessels,” Mr Kinley said.

Paper and electronic navigational charts reflecting the changes are now available from the Australian Hydrographic Service.

Source: AMSA