The Shen Neng was grounded at Douglas Shoal off the Capricorn Coast.
The Shen Neng was grounded at Douglas Shoal off the Capricorn Coast. Queensland Government

Coal ship fine 'inadequate'

1.45pm: CONSERVATIONISTS have labelled as grossly inadequate the “small fines” imposed on the crew of a bulk carrier caught taking a short cut through an exclusion zone near where the Shen Neng grounded on the reef in April.

The Capricorn Conservation Council’s Michael McCabe said: “the very small fines imposed on the crew of the Signe Bulker bulk carrier” were discouraging.

“The fines of $29,000 and $24,000 for the chief and third mate for breaching GBR shipping lanes are grossly inadequate,” Mr McCabe said.

“These amounts are just petty cash compared to the profits from coal (and expected from LNG) exports, and do not discourage shipping companies taking short cuts through the reef.”

He said while there had been improvements in tracking of ships since the Shen Neng incident, there had been no financial reparations for the significant damage to the Douglas Shoals where the ship grounded.

“The reef may take decades to recover and cost many millions of dollars to clean up the anti-fouling paint which prevents the recovery of marine life and corals,” Mr McCabe said.

“CCC believes more should be done to align and enforce federal and state compliance and penalties for GBR shipping incidents. The Gladstone Port Corporation should ban any shipping companies which do not comply with GBR shipping lanes.

“These shipping incidents are likely to increase with the planned massive expansion of coal and gas exports from Gladstone and through Keppel Bay from the proposed Balaclava Island coal port.

“Greatly improved compliance measures are critical to prevent catastrophic shipping collisions harming the environment of the Reef, our coastal waters and the economy.”

He said the threat of harm to the reef would increase with the planned massive expansion of coal and gas mining and exports.

“With Queensland tourism operators working hard to recover from the impacts of the recent floods, our precious environmental assets like the GBR need greater levels of protection from shipping accidents,” Mr McCabe said.
 

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