News that a fishing trawler has gone to ground on the Great Barrier Reef near Lady Elliot Island is a reminder of the dangers of increasing coal shipping along the Great Barrier Reef, said the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
Felicity Wishart, the Great Barrier Reef campaign director said “the first priority is to secure the safety of all crew and rescuers involved, and then to ensure that the damage to the Reef is minimised.
“Just one ship crash on the Reef threatens human life and can cause huge damage. We are hopeful no one has been hurt. But there are reports that the trawler is currently leaking fuel in the World Heritage Area.
“While a fishing trawler is far smaller than a coal ship, this is an early warning call for what could happen if thousands more massive coal ships are allowed through the Reef every year.
“Plans for more mega ports along the Reef mean more coal and gas ships and that means more risk.
“The state and federal governments have already approved developments that will increase the number of ships heading through the Reef.
“This grounding is a warning. If we allow more massive ships through the Reef, there’s more chance of a crash that could result in significant damage. This serves to remind us that its a tough place to navigate, and even more so in rough weather.
“We are asking our state and federal Governments – if one local fishing trawler can crash on the Reef and damage the environment – then what might 7,000 massive coal ships do?”, said Ms Wishart.