If you spotted drama happening out in the harbour this week, rest assured, it was only a drill.
Gladstone waters have about 150 ship movements each month and over three days this week Maritime
Safety Queensland (MSQ) led a real-time, multi-agency, pollution response exercise in to ensure greater
protection for marine life.
Maritime Safety Queensland General Manager Kell Dillon said the Queensland Government, acting through
MSQ, was responsible for dealing with ship-sourced pollution with the potential to impact coastal waters.
“As part of this responsibility, we rehearse the deployment of our oil spill response arrangements in
conjunction with other agencies, both state and federal, from 21 to 23 June,” Mr Dillon said.
“MSQ will co-ordinate Exercise Cabin in its lead agency role in cooperation with the Department of
Environment and Science, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Australian Maritime Safety Authority,
Gladstone Ports Corporation, Gladstone Regional Council, traditional owners and others.
“Responders from all functional areas will have the opportunity to practise their emergency deployment roles in
real-time and real environments during the three-day exercise.
“In situations where time is of the essence, the interaction and coordination between all key stakeholders are
the key to success.
“Protecting the World Heritage-listed reef is a government priority and Exercise Cabin is all about being highly
prepared for an adverse event.”
Mr Dillon said more than 11,000 commercial vessels travel inside the reef each year.
“This type of exercise is essential to make sure we are ready to make an immediate and robust response in
the event of a real, ship-sourced oil spill,” he said.
“Gladstone, with about 150 ship movements a month, is a high-traffic, multi-commodity port that is vital to
“As well as its economic value, it is located close to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and fringed by pristine
islands and beaches that are important for recreation and tourism.
“An oil spill in the port would pose a threat to marine flora and fauna, potentially interrupt coal and gas supply
chains and adversely affect tourism and recreation.
“While we have many proven risk mitigations in place to prevent such an occurrence, exercises such as Cabin
enable us, while striving for the best, to prepare for the worst.”
Mr Dillon said MSQ usually held pollution response exercises annually, but restrictions during the COVID-19
pandemic had made it difficult to practice a full multi-agency response for the past two years.
“That makes Exercise Cabin all the more important for all agencies involved, now that pandemic restrictions
have eased,” he said.
Some of the activities would take place at CQ University’s Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre
CMERC Director Emma Jackson said the exercise would provide a great community engagement learning
opportunity for all involved.
“This is the second time CMERC has hosted part of this training program because emergency response is of
such critical importance to protecting coastal and marine ecosystems up and down the Queensland coast, as
well as the local communities that depend on coastal harbours for industry and tourism,” Dr Jackson said.