Calls grow for rogue ships to avoid Reef

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - RACHEL RI­LEY rachel. ri­ley@ news. com. au

OIL patches washed up on North Queens­land beaches are be­ing painstak­ingly col­lected as author­i­ties be­lieve the worst en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of the spill are over.

But con­ser­va­tion­ists say the spill, which was es­ti­mated to be 800m in di­am­e­ter, has been “down­played” and more needs to be done to stop “rogue” ships en­ter­ing the Great Bar­rier Reef. About 100 lo­cal­cal and State Gov­ern­ment work­ers kers ex­tended their week­end shore­line clean- ups at For­rest rest Beach, Hinch­in­brook Is­land and Tay­lors Beachh to the Palm Is­land d group yesterday.

Mar­itime Safety Queens­land has been n co- or­di­nat­ing the oper- ation from their Townssville head­quar­ters with as­sis­tance from the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine e Park Au­thor­ity, De­part­mentt of En­vi­ron­ment, Queens­land Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice and Hinch­in­brook Coun­cil of­fi­cers.

Sam­ples of the oil, which was ini­tially spot­ted on the Great Bar­rier Reef 33km north- north­east of Cape Up­start, have been taken from nine ships. Townsville’s re­gional har­bour master Cap­tain Frank D’Souza said oil was still com­ing ashore late yesterday but lev­els were de­plet­ing.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the re­sponse we have re­ceived from all the gov­ern- ment agen­cies … and I be­lieve this is al­most the end of it,” Cpt D’Souza. “We are look­ing at scal­ing back the clean- up as soon as pos­si­ble … but first we want to make sure we are win­ning the bat­tle.”

GBRMPA’s oper­a­tions sup­port man­ager Mark Read said a small num­ber of dead an­i­mals had washed up on beaches af­fected by the spill but in­ves­ti­ga­tions found the deaths were un­re­lated.

“We’ve cov­ered the

area of coast from Townsville all the way to Hinch­in­brook Is­land and as far north to Mis­sion Beach … so we’re pretty con­fi­dent there are not a lot of an­i­mals that we are miss­ing,” he said.

“Based on other oil spills … we recog­nise that be­cause ( it) had been float­ing for quite a long pe­riod of time be­fore it hit the coast­line … a lot of that volatil­ity had al­ready dis­si­pated.”

World Wildlife Fund Aus­tralia and the Aus­tralian Mar- ine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety said reefs in the path of the oil spill must be checked for dam­age. WWF- Aus­tralia spokesman Richard Leck said there were two likely spill sce­nar­ios.

“Ei­ther the ship lost a large amount of oil and was un­aware or it was aware and chose not to re­port it,” he said.

“Ei­ther way, the Gov­ern­ment needs to find the ves­sel and is­sue the op­er­a­tor with a sig­nif­i­cant fine.”

SPILL ZONE: Har­bour master Frank D'Souza at the cen­tre co- or­di­nat­ing the clean- up. INSET: a patch of oil washe washed up on a Palm Is­land beach. BE­LOW: Yesterday’s front- page re­port.

Main p pic­ture: SCOTT RAD­FORD- CHISHOLM

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