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Papua New Guinea’s seas, coastline and rivers are subject to a number of environmental threats from transport sources including:

  • pollution by shipping through oil and cargo spillages, discharge of liquid and solid wastes, and anti-fouling coatings;
  • spillages and discharges from wharves and port industrial sites; and
  • modification to shorelines and beaches through reclamation, dredging and materials extraction for construction and other purposes.

Environmental impacts of development projects are subject to environmental impact and protection regulations administered by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC).

Marine Pollution from Ports and Shipping

 PNG is signatory to the MARPOL convention on marine pollution, so has responsibilities to ensure that ships operating in PNG waters are properly equipped and operate to MARPOL standards.

The NMSA is the responsible agency for the control of pollution from ships, assisted by port owners and operators in respect of pollution within port limits. The NMSA will take the following actions to counter marine pollution threats:

  • With support from the DOT, ensure that marine pollution legislation is regularly updated to best practice and is in conformity with PNG’s international convention requirements;
  • Maintain a national plan for combating marine pollution, including designated personnel, training exercises, a store of pollution fighting equipment and materials, and a first response capability;
  • Regularly convening the National Marine Spill Committee and conducting training exercises with national and international marine pollution response organisations, in particular the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA);
  • Establishing a protocol for engaging international assistance to respond to major pollution incidents beyond the normal capacity of PNG, such as the sinking of a vessel containing polluting cargo or an offshore oil and gas platform accident; and
  • Establish and maintain an Environmental Protection Unit within its organisation to address these requirements

Coastal Engineering Works and Climate Change Adaptation

 Marine infrastructure is potentially threatened by the effects of climate change, including increased severity and area of effect of tropical storms and sea level rise. These threats require a response when designing new wharves and jetties, access roads and other coastal transport infrastructure, to ensure that sufficient provision is made for future sea level rise and that the structures and seawalls can withstand all but the most exceptional storm conditions.

PNG Ports Corporation will, within its brief for coordinating engineering standard setting for maritime works, manage the preparation of guidelines for environmental impact assessment and control of modifications to the shoreline for the purposes of establishing and maintaining port facilities. These standards will ensure that climate change risks are taken into account in the relevant design and construction codes in matters such as allowances for sea level rise and storm surge.