Two-way Route in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait

By Joseph R. Fonseca
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Two-way route in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait


The IMO-adopted ship routeing measure to enhance the safety and efficiency of navigation and protect the region’s sensitive marine environment will come into effect at 0000 UTC on 1st December 2014.

The two-way route aims to reduce the risk of collisions and groundings by separating opposing streams (e.g. north and south-bound) of traffic and encourage ships to follow well-defined lanes. The route will also help ensure ships keep clear of the numerous shoals, reefs and islands that lie close outside, particularly in the northern portion of the GBR and Torres Strait.

The IMO-adopted two-way route extends from the western end of Torres Strait, through the Prince of Wales Channel, the GBR Inner Route and terminates at the southern boundary of the GBR Marine Park (see chartlet attached). It excludes the Great North East Channel at the eastern end of Torres Strait which already has an IMO-adopted two-way route.

The two-way route is unchanged from that currently charted in Torres Strait and the northern portion of the GBR. It will not alter the way ships currently navigate in the region. In the southern portion of the GBR, the new two-way route generally follows the existing traffic pattern. IMO has adopted the northern and southern portions of the new two-way route.

Use of the two-way route is strongly recommended, but not mandatory. Obligations in relation to compliance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 remain unchanged. The use of the two-way route does not give vessels any special right of way.

By November 2014, the Australian Hydrographic Service (AHS) will have progressively incorporated the new two-way route in relevant paper charts. Updated Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) will also have been published. AHS will advise by Notices to Mariners when these charts will be available.

Ship owners, operators and agents are urged to obtain new editions of relevant charts depicting the two-way route and provide these to ships operating in the GBR and Torres Strait region.

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Marine Notice 11/2014

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