Master and first officer of a South Korean bulk carrier have been fined by an Australian Court for existing a designated shipping area within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Sea Coen registered in the Marshall Islands and belong to SW Shipping, entered a shipping exclusion zone through Palm Passage, offshore Townsville in March 2022. Although no major damage were caused the actions were found to have significantly increased the level of risk to the safe navigation of the ship through the Great Barrier Reef.
Both Master and first officer were pleaded guilty in Townsville Magistrates Court to the charges of Prohibited Conduct in a zone of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and were fined US$28,000 and US$24,000 respectively, with the amounts to be deducted from a bail of US$31,000 that had previously been posted for each person.
Josh Thomas, chief executive officer of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority believes that the fines were good example of enforcing compliance in the Marine Park.
“Major shipping incidents can have catastrophic consequences for the environmental, cultural and economic values of the Great Barrier Reef, and vessel operators who flout the laws will be held to account,” said Thomas.
The Great Barrier Reef, the biggest coral reef in the world is not only protected by Australian government but also by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Vessels are to only navigate within the designated shipping area (DSA) or the general use zones of the Great Barrier Reef and a special permit is required to navigate outside of the area.
Maldives government has also started discussions to expand jurisdiction for resorts from 500m to 1,000m, upon concerns expressed by Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) over fishing vessels sailing too close to resorts.