Taiwan master of Great Barrier Reef ship charged

2015-02-16 12:04

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - The master of a Taiwanese ship has been charged with failing to take on a pilot to navigate Australia's Great Barrier Reef, police said on Monday.

Environmentalists said the incident highlights the risks from shipping to the World Heritage site off the northeast coast.

The Australian Federal Police said the master of the "China Steel Developer", a 66-year-old Taiwanese, had been charged with attempting to depart Australian waters on 1 January without a pilot on board.

Pilots with extensive local knowledge are mandatory for travel through parts of the Great Barrier Reef marine park.

"The potential environmental, economic and social consequences could have been severe if an unescorted voyage had gone wrong," said the marine park authority's general manager Andrew Skeat.

"We would urge all commercial shipping companies to abide by the rules and understand they're designed to safeguard a critical ecosystem."

Police said authorities in Townsville detected the ship, which was reportedly carrying coal, shortly after it entered the compulsory pilotage area. They ensured it returned to land to take on a pilot.

The master was charged after the vessel returned to Australia recently, docking in Newcastle on Saturday.

Police said sentencing would be in Newcastle on Tuesday, with the maximum penalty for the offence a $74 475 fine.

Conservationists have long raised fears about the impact on the Great Barrier Reef, particularly from shipping, from Queensland's coal and gas boom.

In April 2010 the Chinese-registered coal carrier Shen Neng 1 foundered, leaking tons of heavy fuel oil and threatening an ecological disaster.

A catastrophe was avoided but the huge ship gouged a 3km scar in the reef and was stranded for nine days before salvagers could refloat it.

Environmental group Greenpeace said the latest incident showed that while there were coal ships going through the Great Barrier Reef there was the risk of serious accidents.

"The more coal ships we have travelling through the Great Barrier Reef, the greater the risk," said reef campaigner Shani Tager.

"Today's news shows that coal ships are still gambling with the future of our reef. Fundamentally accidents happen and short cuts like these put the reef at risk."

Read more on:    australia  |  taiwan  |  environment

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.