The Liberian-registered MV Iron Gate. File Photo: Flett

Bulk Carrier Busted for Dumping Garbage at Great Barrier Reef

Mike Schuler
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March 5, 2021

Australia has fined the chief officer and operator of a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier for dumping garbage into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

An investigation by Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) revealed that the chief officer of the MV Iron Gate had approved the discharge of garbage overboard as the ship was about 13 nautical miles from Lady Elliot Island, well within Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, during a voyage from Brisbane and Gladstone in 2018. Officials said a 120-liter household garbage bin full of food waste was dumped.

Under the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983, food waste cannot be discharged within 12 nautical miles from boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. AMSA General Manager Operations, Allan Schwartz, said the law was important to help protect Australia’s precious marine environment from the impacts of shipping.

“Australians and tourists alike visit Lady Elliot Island to swim with mantra rays and turtles – not blended food waste from merchant ships,” Schwartz said.

“We take a zero-tolerance approach to pollution from shipping and that is why, after detecting this breach during a routine inspection of Iron Gate in 2018, we detained the ship and later charged the chief officer and company, Kairasu Shipping S.A.,” he added.

In total, the fines against the officer and company amounted to $6,600, but perhaps the biggest punishment is the hit to their reputations.

“Dumping garbage into the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef isn’t something you want on your professional record,” said Schwartz. “These convictions should serve as a reminder to other industry operators that in Australia, we make sure polluters pay.”

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