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A NEW ship tracking system is set to steer ships safely along Queensland’s coast and ports.

The system dubbed Vessel Traffic Services is expected to provide better safety for both ships and the Great Barrier Reef.

The Queensland government is to implement the technology at Queensland’s five Vessel Traffic Services centres in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Gladstone and Hay Point in coming weeks before expanding to cover the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait in mid-20.

Transport minister Mark Bailey said the new system would allow operators to provide detailed information to ship captains on sea conditions, ship traffic and potential hazards.

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The new technology replaces the existing REEFVTS, and has been used across 70 of the world’s major ports including Shanghai, Hong Kong and Rotterdam.

“Shipping plays an important part in Queensland’s economy,” Mr Bailey said.

“Our ports at Gladstone, Rockhampton and Bundaberg have seen another record trade year with 124.8m tonnes through those ports last financial year.”

A review of the North-East Shipping Management Plan revealed “a record number” of ships were visiting the Queensland with the lowest number of incidents in years.

“This upgrade will enable even more effective monitoring of ship traffic throughout the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and Queensland Ports,” Mr Bailey said.

Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Angus Mitchell said the new system would give Vessel Traffic Services operators the clearest and most up-to-date picture of shipping through the Great Barrier Reef.

“And it will also help predict and warn of potential problems – enabling authorities and captains to plan even safer journeys,” Mr Mitchell said.

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