Australia will extend the satellite ship-tracking system to cover the Great Barrier Reef after a Chinese carrier ran aground earlier this month posing an environmental hazard, the government said.

Australian Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the system, currently in place for most of the reef, would be extended from around Mackay down to Bundaberg and covers about 100km east of the Queensland coastline.

The rule, forcing all ships to report their positions, must be approved by the International Maritime Organisation as much of the area is outside Australia’s territorial waters, Albanese said.

The government expects the system to be fully ready by July 2011.

Chinese carrier Shen Neng 1 spilled about 4t of fuel after hitting a sand bank on 3 April carrying 68,000t of coal and 975t of fuel oil.