FOUR new two-way shipping routes are to be introduced at Papua New Guinea’s Jomard Entrance by 1 June, the Maritime Safety Authorities of PNG and Australia have announced.

Also known as the Jomard Channel, the Entrance is a navigable strait in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea between the Jomard Islands and the Duperré Islets – connecting the Solomon Sea with the Coral Sea.

The new routing system was accepted by the International Maritime Organisation late in 2014 after being proposed by Papua New Guinea’s National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

AMSA said it had worked with PNG Authorities in submitting the proposal as the majority of shipping traffic through the area was going to or coming from ports on Australia’s east coast.

“Based on the latest available data, an average of 27 large commercial ships pass through Jomard Entrance each day,” AMSA said.

AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said the new two-way routes through Jomard Entrance would enhance navigational safety and protect the environmentally sensitive waters of this region.

“A risk assessment found that introducing two way routes would reduce the risk of collisions at Jomard Entrance,” Mr Kinley said.

“These new two-way routes will separate north and south bound traffic and ensure ships keep well clear of reefs in the area, making navigation there safer and easier.”

One of the four new routes extends about 20 nautical miles to the north of Jomard Entrance, while the other three routes align with general traffic patterns to and from eastern Australian ports, and extend about 3.5 nautical miles south of the entrance.

“The establishment of such a measure will safeguard Australia’s strategic and economic interests and cater to the forecast growth in traffic through this area in coming years, which will be largely driven by the mining sector,” Mr Kinley said.

Paper and electronic navigational charts reflecting the changes will be made available in coming months from the Australian Hydrographic Service.