SBS World News – Trawler damages Great Barrier Reef

SBS World News – Trawler damages Great Barrier Reef

6 Jun 2013, 4:26 pm – Source: AAP

A fishing trawler has run aground on the Great Barrier Reef off central Queensland, spilling some oil and damaging the coral.

A commercial fishing trawler has damaged the Great Barrier Reef and spilled diesel fuel after running aground off central Queensland.

The incident happened about 3.30am on Thursday near Lady Elliot Island off Gladstone which is within the World Heritage Area.

The hull of the ship was damaged but no injuries were reported.

A small amount of diesel began seeping from the boat before crew managed to stop the leak, a Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) spokeswoman said.

“Diesel that did leak has dispersed and no mopping up is needed,” she said.

The extent of the damage to the reef is not yet known but will be assessed before the vessel is salvaged on Thursday night.

An investigation will be carried out.

It is not known whether the crew is still on board.

Environmental groups say the grounding is an example of what could happen more often if ports along the Queensland coast are developed, increasing the number of ships which cross the reef.

Felicity Wishart, from the Australian Marine Conservation Society, says the incident serves as a reminder of the impact ships crossing the reef can have on the area.

“Just one ship crash on the reef threatens human life and can cause huge damage,” she said.

Greens environment spokeswoman Senator Larissa Waters says the reef is being treated like a highway for coal and gas.

“With projections of one coal ship every hour and a half if port expansions proceed, the Great Barrier Reef will face more shipping accidents, risking more oil spills and damage to this world heritage icon.”

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