MARITIME Safety Queensland has awarded two companies with grants intended to help revitalise Queensland’s coastal shipping industry.

Tn Marine in Cairns and ASP Ship Management in Gladstone are receiving funding under the Coastal Shipping Grants Program, part of the state government’s Backing Queensland Maritime Jobs (BQMJ) initiative.

Tn Marine, trading as North Marine, plans to use the grant to create a new barge service from Cairns which would provide general cargo and fuel to island communities and resorts in Far North Queensland.

The service would provide new employment for six people.

And ASP Ship Management originally received partial funding from the Maritime Employment Grant Program – another program covered by the BQMJ initiative – for six new positions in its cruise ship bunkering service in the port of Brisbane.

The six roles will now be fully funded under the Coastal Shipping Grants Program, allowing ASP Ship Management to provide Queensland seafarers with enhanced career opportunities, including training towards higher qualifications.

Queensland minister for transport and main roads Mark Bailey said the government believes Tn Marine and ASP Ship Management have the ability to upskill Queensland’s maritime sector.

“These funds will kick-start maritime careers and businesses in Queensland and support locally based jobs and supply chains,” he said.

“The second round of coastal shipping grants will target organisations that will not only deliver new shipping services but are also prepared to invest in employing mariners with the highest competencies.

“This will build the capacity of Queensland mariners to support state and international shipping responsibilities more ably.

“This provides an important signal to business and the community that there’s a future in coastal shipping and maritime careers.”

Tn Marine company director Courtney Hansen said the coastal shipping grant would allow the business to enter new markets and increase employment capabilities.

“Coastal shipping has a long and rich history in Far North Queensland,” she said.

“Our region is geographically sparse and shipping provides the lifeline between our major hubs and the remote communities that are dotted along the coastline, through the Torres Strait and into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

“Through this grant opportunity, North Marine is eager to provide these communities another service to better enable connectivity to the mainland.

“We are passionate about providing training pathways for our employees and are proud to be entrusted by MSQ to deliver diverse employment outcomes for the maritime sector in FNQ.”

And Mark Patman, ASP Ships group CEO – Australia, said shipping is a capital-intensive business with high operating costs.

“This grant will enable ASP to develop our shipping activity in Queensland with a higher degree of certainty and confidence of success for the longer term,” he said.

“The coastal shipping grant demonstrates the Queensland Government’s support for coastal shipping and the importance this plays in Queensland.

“The grant will enable us to grow ASP’s shipping activity in Queensland. It is also important to note that shipping generates significantly lower CO2 emissions than road, rail and air transport.

“The grant has enabled ASP to grow the number of Queenslanders we employ and will also increase the opportunities for us to provide additional training opportunities for those seeking a career in the Queensland maritime industry.”

A second round of grants targeting operators of registered Australian vessels opened on Friday 8 December. Round two closes on 9 February 2024.

The state government said the new program would focus on operators and vessels that could deliver new coastal shipping services to regional Queenslanders.

MSQ will call for a second round of applications under its Coastal Shipping Grants Program, with revised and clarified criteria to encourage further applicants.

The Coastal Shipping Grants Program, Maritime Employment Grant program and Maritime Training Grant Program are all part of BQMJ initiative, an election commitment to create “strategically important” maritime jobs and training opportunities in Queensland.

BQMJ has committed to providing $21 million of financial assistance to the state’s maritime sector.