BIG FINES were imposed today on three senior officers convicted of sailing a Japanese-controlled bulker on an illegal shortcut through the Great Barrier Reef.
Gang Chun Han, 63, the South Korean master of the Panamanian-flag, 53,556dwt Mimosa; the Vietnamese chief officer, Tran Tan Thanh, 32; and second officer Nguyen Van Sang, 26, also from Vietnam, were each fined A$70,000 ($65,330).
They pleaded guilty in Townsville Magistrates Court to breaching the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act. Prosecutor Aaron Guilfoyle told the court the bulker entered the park on 4 April via an unauthorised route at Flinders Passage, off the north Queensland coast.
The course took Mimosa through clearly marked no-go zones. Guilfoyle said the ship had travelled 109 n-miles (202km) on the course to save time and fuel and to jump the loading queue at Abbot Point Coal Terminal.
“The ship passed through sensitive habitats and hazards to navigation, and so doing, posed threats of pollution and damage,” he said.
Magistrate Scott Luxton said there was no doubt that the route would have been “commercially advantageous” to the ship’s owner and that the officers had shown blatant disregard for the law.
“One cannot ignore the physical damage which could have been caused to the reef and the detrimental impact upon those who rely on the reef for their income,” Luxton said.
Source: SAFETY AT SEA INTERNATIONAL