No oil spill found but vessels to be tested
AUTHORITIES have failed to find any trace of oil after a fisherman reported an 800m spill on the Great Barrier Reef south of Townsville on Friday.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority spent the weekend searching for the spill, believed to be 33km north- northeast of Cape Upstart, between Ayr and Bowen.
Transport and Main Roads said the air and sea search revealed no sign of oil.
“Extensive air and sea surveillance … has found no evidence of oil sheen or patches of oil,” a spokesman said.
“There is also no evidence of any impact to wildlife.”
The official said samples had been taken from five ships and the others also will be tested for a chemical match.
The department will also check the foreshore for evidence of oil and also for impacted wildlife during the week.
Samples taken from transiting vessels will be analysed during the coming weeks.
The last thing authorities need is an oil spill on the World Heritage- listed Reef so soon after UNESCO investigated Australia’s lack of care for the environmental icon.
Australian Marine Conservation Society spokeswoman Felicity Wishart said the spill scare showed how vulnerable the World Heritage area was to damage from shipping.
“The region is a nursery for humpback whales during winter and there are important turtle nesting beaches along the coastline,” she said.
“We are reminded that it only takes one vessel to have an accident to cause irreparable damage to the reef and its marine life.”