The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. It is composed of almost 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands that extend over a distance greater than 1,600 miles. Only approximately 50% of all the reefs have been properly surveyed. The accessibility of these shallow reef environments is a challenge for traditional survey methods, although satellite derived bathymetry technology has overcome these traditional challenges and has gathered satellite data that will help to more accurately provide usable survey data for the whole reef.
The aim of this Passage Planning Guide is to provide a simple to understand tool to assist the bridge team in making a safe and controlled transit of the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait.
Volume 1 is Background and Guidance; Great North East Passage; Inner Route
Volume 2 is South of Cairns; Hydrographers Passage; Appendices
The Great Barrier Reef is both a Marine Park and a World Heritage Area, where The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) plays a major role in the management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
The IMO declared the Great Barrier Reef a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) in 1990, and the Torres Strait a PSSA in 2005. A PSSA is an area that needs special protection through action by the IMO because it is significant for recognized ecological, socio-economic or scientific reasons, but it may be vulnerable to damage by international maritime activities. The criteria for the identification of PSSAs and the criteria for the designation of Special Areas are not mutually exclusive. In many cases a PSSA may be identified within a Special Area and vice versa.
The region includes extensive areas of compulsory pilotage (see section 1.12), where an AMSA licensed pilot must be on board at all times.