The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has prosecuted China Earth Shipping Incorporated, the owners of Panama flagged bulk carrier Xin Tai Hai and its master after the ship’s crew tossed bags of garbage overboard near Gladstone in June last year.
The shipowner was fined $20,000 and the ship’s master was fined $6000 in the Townsville Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, November 18.
Both the company and the master entered pleas of guilty.
The conviction stemmed from a report by a local fisherman who saw a number of plastic bags of rubbish on June 13 last year. The AMSA subsequently identified Xin Tai Hai as the potential source of the pollution through the Vessel Traffic Service in Gladstone, which tracks vessels transiting through the area after the report was received by the Gladstone Volunteer Marine Service.
An AMSA surveyor boarded the ship while it was berthed in Gladstone and the investigation found similar items to those found in the ocean.
Ship Safety Division General Manager Allan Schwartz said Australia, in line with international conventions, does not tolerate ships dumping garbage in the ocean.
“Ship owners and their masters need to understand these incidents are investigated and will lead to prosecution, if ships are found to have disposed of garbage illegally,” Mr Schwartz said.
“These regulations exist to ensure sensitive sea areas such as the Great Barrier Reef are protected.”