The following strategies and other government response measures for reducing the pressures of shipping have recently been introduced.
Ballast water requirements
Under Australia's Ballast Water Management Requirements, all ballast water from outside Australia's territorial sea must be managed to make it low-risk to the marine environment before it may be discharged inside the territorial sea.
AQIS deems all salt water from ports (or coastal waters) outside Australia's territorial sea to present a "high-risk" of introducing exotic marine species into Australia. The discharge of high-risk ballast water from ships is prohibited anywhere inside Australia's territorial seas (12 nautical mile limit generally applies).
Ballast water of the following types is deemed by AQIS to be "low-risk":
- fresh water from any source
- ballast water that has been assessed as "low-risk" for discharge (at specified ports /locations on specified dates) by the 'Ballast Water Decision Support System' (BWDSS) - a computer application that can provide vessels with a risk assessment of their ballast water and deem it to be acceptable for discharge or otherwise
- ballast water that has been exchanged at an approved location (mid-ocean) by an approved method
- ballast water taken up in mid-ocean
- ballast water taken up inside Australia's territorial seas.
Explicit written permission to discharge foreign ballast water in Australian waters must be obtained from AQIS prior to discharge. Every ship that arrives from overseas (with the exception of US Naval vessels which AQIS has no authority to inspect) is inspected, and inspectors verify, among other things, that, on every ship, ballast water has been managed in accordance with the law. Compliance with the mandatory ballast water management requirements is better than 99% for the approximately 12,500 annual voyages that arrive in Australia.
Source: Australian Ballast Water Management Requirements, AQIS, 2004
The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships states that, by 1 January 2008 (effective date), ships either:
- shall not bear such compounds on their hulls or external parts or surfaces; or
- shall bear a coating that forms a barrier to such compounds leaching from the underlying non-compliant anti-fouling systems.
A range of projects have been put in place to facilitate achievement of the Convention targets, including studies of the effects of anti-fouling biocides and evaluations of some alternatives.
Details of these projects can be found at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/pollution/antifouling/projects/index.html
Since October 1973 Australia has had in place a pre-planned national strategy to respond to marine spills. The original strategy dealt only with oil spills and was known as the National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil. In April 1998 the strategy was extended to deal with the response to maritime chemical spills in Australian waters and is now known as the National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and other Noxious and Hazardous Substances (the National Plan).
The National Plan provides a national framework for responding promptly and efficiently to marine pollution incidents by designating competent national and local authorities, and maintaining:
- the National Oil and Chemical Marine Spill Contingency Plans, which includes the organisational relationship of various groups involved, both public and private
- detailed state, local and industry contingency plans and communications arrangements for mobilising resources and responding to incidents
- an adequate level of strategically positioned response equipment, balanced with the risk involved, and programs for its use
- a comprehensive national training program to familiarise government and industry personnel with the requirements involved in planning for and responding to spilled marine pollutants, including conducting regular exercises.
The Oil spill strategy is at:
- Australia's National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and other Noxious and Hazardous Substances (Word - 213 KB)
Injury and fatality to vertebrate marine life caused by ingestion of, or entanglement in, harmful marine debris has been listed as a key threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Plastic materials are defined as: bags, bottles, strapping bands, sheeting, synthetic ropes, synthetic fishing nets, floats, fibreglass, piping, insulation, paints and adhesives. Disposal of plastics at sea is totally prohibited by the International Convention.
A Threat Abatement Plan to address this key threatening process is being developed. The plan will build on existing activities to mitigate marine debris, such as government programs to improve waste retrieval from watercourses; anti-littering laws; laws controlling overboard disposal of ship and boat garbage and fishing gear; and plans to reduce the litter from plastic shopping bags.
- Finding Solutions: Derelict Fishing Gear and Other Marine Debris in Northern Australia (PDF - 8382 KB)
- Harmful Marine Debris (PDF - 174 KB)
Considerable effort has been made to develop strategies aimed at reducing some of the better understood pressures of shipping on the marine environment.
Data before and after the introduction of a national measure intended to address an identified problem can be useful in showing the extent to which the problem has receded following introduction of the measures. However, since such measures often also introduce an unprecedented level of monitoring, data can be misleading, showing an apparent increase in the pressure when, in fact, all they are really showing is improved reporting.
National responses take a long time to translate into changes of condition. Although they can translate into changes in both the occurrence and intensity of the pressures in a much shorter time, monitoring prior to their introduction might not have been adequate for any change to show in the data. As response indicators, the fact of introduction of a national plan and strategy provides a date from which change in the pressure and the condition can be monitored.
Links to another web site
Links to data in the DRS
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