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Bulk Carrier Caught Dumping Garbage in Great Barrier Reef

© Graham Flett /


A shipping company and chief officer have been convicted in Australia for dumping garbage near the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system.

Following a prosecution by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), on February 26, 2021, the chief officer and operator of Liberian-flagged bulk carrier Iron Gate were fined and convicted in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for dumping the equivalent of a 120-liter household garbage bin full of food waste into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland.

In 2018, Iron Gate was on a voyage between Brisbane and Gladstone when the chief officer approved the discharge of garbage overboard about 13 nautical miles southeast of Lady Elliot Island, well within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Australian waters.

Under the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983, food waste cannot be discharged within 12 nautical miles seaward of the boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Australia maintains a zero-tolerance approach to pollution from shipping, according to AMSA General Manager Operations, Allan Schwartz, who said it 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.

"In total, the fines against both parties amount to about $6,600. However, it's the conviction which goes to their reputations and records that have the longest-lasting impact.

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

Mar 5, 2021



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