Ran around: Douglas Shoal, situated 70km east of Great Keppel Island, where the Chinese-owned coal carrying Shen Neng 1 hit after leaving the port of Gladstone.
Ran around: Douglas Shoal, situated 70km east of Great Keppel Island, where the Chinese-owned coal carrying Shen Neng 1 hit after leaving the port of Gladstone.

Plea for 'compulsory pilots'

THE oil spill from a ship which ran aground at Douglas Shoal, 70km east of Great Keppel Island, yesterday sparked environmental concerns in the area.

Modelling yesterday afternoon showed oil spilled from the Shen Neng 1 could wash ashore at the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area within the next two days.

Ian Herbert, spokesman for the Capricorn Conservation Council (CCC), said there was concern not only about the effects of the spill on the mainland, but also the island and marine environments.

“There are the fringing reefs on the islands and in Keppel Bay,” he said.

“Many of these islands have coral reefs fringing them which have a surprisingly wide diversity of corals that don’t occur in other places.”

Mr Herbert said the spill was a timely warning on the need for pilots on ships travelling up the Queensland coast.

“We want to see compulsory pilots. Australian pilots aboard all these ships anytime they’re within Australian waters.”

“A year ago - Moreton Island, yesterday - Great Keppel Island, next year - who knows where? Who knows what damage will be done to our local coral reefs and marine animals from the oil spill from the ship? We are outraged no marine pilot is required on ships between Gladstone and Cairns.”

“Our main plea, is this is a warning call for what we can expect a lot more of if the government keeps hell-bent on this direction of huge increases in our export of coal and the yet to come development of a LNG industry, which will be exporting many more times the number of shipping we’ve got now, will be exported out of Gladstone.”

The call for compulsory pilots on ships along the Queensland coast has been echoed by Greens senate candidate and environmental lawyer, Larissa Waters.

“Marine pilots should be compulsory on all carriers travelling through the inner passage of the reef. It is unacceptable that these experienced navigators are only required in a handful of areas (north of Cairns, and two areas south of Cairns).”

A spokeswoman for Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the use of pilots was one measure Maritime Safety Queensland was already considering.

“Maritime Safety Queensland is looking at additional measures which may be required given the anticipated increase in activity,” she said. “Maritime Safety Queensland has indicated that extending the use of pilots for vessels coming in and out of the port is already one of the measures being considered.”

Mr Herbert said incidents like these showed why the CCC held concerns against more developments, especially the mooted Balaclava Island Coal Export Terminal in the mouth of the Fitzroy River.



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