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Upgrade flagged for Barrier Reef watch

In the wake of the Shen Neng 1 reef crash on Monday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has announced plans to extend its Great Barrier Reef reporting system.

in brief In the wake of the Shen Neng 1 reef crash on Monday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has announced plans to extend its Great Barrier Reef reporting system.

Clown fishes from the great barrier reef

Something fishy on the reef (Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia image by Leonard Low, CC 2.0)

The upgrade of the warning and reporting system could cost up to $2.5 million according to a spokesperson from AMSA. Extended reef coverage will require additional automated ship identification shore stations, satellite reporting, navigational beacons and VHF radio stations.

"Depending upon tests for existing sensor and radio coverage in the area, capital costs (for this project) could range from $0.5 to $2.5 million," AMSA spokesperson Tracey Jiggins told ZDNet Australia.

According to Jiggins, the reef reporting software will "require changes to account for extended coverage and sensors". The current reef reporting system, dubbed ReefVTS, is an Oracle-based software package developed by maritime IT company, HSA System.

The extension had already been a proposal before the ship was grounded on the reef; however, it was after the ship's grounding that Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese announced the extension, pending approval by the International Maritime Organisation. The potential upgrade requires the organisation's go ahead as 55 per cent of the extended coverage is in international waters.

AMSA, with Maritime Safety Queensland, planned to begin a roll out infrastructure to support the extension by July 2011.