Trespassing outside mandated shipping lanes carries consequences for professional cargo companies, especially in areas with fragile ecosystems. The Cairns Post has looked at the marine cargo insurance liability that shipping companies face in the Great Barrier Reef. To avoid legal problems, boats are asked (but will not be required) to follow a specific path starting December 1.

According to an Australian Marine Conservation Society official quoted by the source, annual shipping activity in the Reef is predicted to increase by 3,000 ships over the next six years. The new route will have two lanes to accommodate traffic, and is partly informed by a 2010 disaster in which a ship called the Shen Neng 1 ran aground of the reef off the coast of Queensland.

Cargo vessel captains in the area are likely a‚Äčlready familiar with proper shipping routes because of the effect they have on their coverage. The Post quotes Simon Meyjes, CEO of Australian Marine Pilots Ltd., on how existing best shipping practices complement this proposed addition.

"It's just an additional safety measure to ensure that ships don't stray outside of safe water and run the risk of grounding on reefs," he said. "Their insurance would possibly be voided if they strayed outside of the recommended sea lanes on the charts."

The Reef has been a further source of controversy recently because of a proposed government plan to expand a port in Abbot Point. This would potentially increase coal production in a key area, but it would also require a destructive dredging project which would displace millions of meters of earth.

Insurance issues should be at the forefront in shipping concerns and established beforehand to minimize danger.

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