Australian Federal Police (AFP) agents have arrested a ships Master in Gladstone following allegations that he had operated a ship in a protected zone within the Great Barrier Reef.
On April 12, 2004, a private vessel operator allegedly saw the ship in the protected zone and reported it to Gladstone Vessel Traffic Service. The Great Barrier Reef Marine
Park Authority (GBRMPA) was alerted to the sighting and they in turn advised the AFP.
About 2:00 pm on April 14, federal agents and GBRMPA officers boarded the 17,000 ton bulk alumina carrier when it berthed at Gladstone.
Federal agents will allege the ship was operated in the Capricorn Bunker Group area between Fitzroy Reef and Lamont Reef on or about 12 April 2004. The particular area of ocean is zoned General Use 'B'. A maximum tonnage of 1,500 applies in the zone.
Australian Federal Police Brisbane
Office Manager, Federal Agent Paul Jevtovic said
this was a serious offense.
"The AFP takes any alleged breach of the Great Barrier Reef's protection legislation very seriously. This was a serious breach and had the potential to cause serious damage to the Reef. It is good to see that some of the private operators in the area are acting responsibly and reporting these matters," he said.
The Ships Master, a 41 year old Chinese National appeared in the Gladstone Magistrates Court charged with operating a ship in a General Use 'B' zone. He was fined $10,000.