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Greenies look to UNESCO for Barrier Reef shipping plan
22/05/2012 - Environmentalists are hopeful an international report will give the Queensland government ideas on how to better regulate ship traffic through the Great Barrier Reef.
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Bulk carrier ID Integrity lost power off the far north Queensland coast on Friday and narrowly avoided being run aground on Shark Reef.
It passed safely over the reef and will likely be towed to Townsville on Monday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority says.
The Wilderness Society's northern Australia campaigner Gavan MacFadzean said he was hopeful UNESCO would detail some options about shipping regulations when it releases a report on the state of conservation in the Great Barrier Reef.
"We look forward to seeing some recommendations which make traversing the reef by bulk carrier safer," MacFadzean told reporters on Monday.
"(We hope they) make specific recommendations about how we're going to handle this big increase in ship movements and port developments."
The report, due to be released next week, will make recommendations about whether the reef should be listed as a World Heritage site in danger.
UNESCO last year rebuked the Queensland and federal government for failing to inform it about two major liquefied natural gas projects on Curtis Island.
MacFadzean says existing laws need to be beefed up as shipping traffic increases and new ports are constructed on the Queensland coast.
"I don't think the current practices are tenable to handle that increase in shipping movement and those big port developments," MacFadzean told reporters.
"(We'd like to see) pilots, if not tugs, escorting ships through both channels, looking at different channels, more sophisticated navigational options and ramping up the capacity for emergency response vessels."
Australian Reef Pilots CEO Simon Meyjes also called for an increase in compulsory piloted areas throughout the reef.
The ID Integrity's owners, Wallem Shipmanagement Limited, said the carrier no longer posed a danger to Shark Reef or the Great Barrier Reef.
Three towing vessels would escort the ship to Townsville, where it was expected to arrive on Wednesday, the company said.
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