Shen Neng 1 grounding: statement

Published: 27/05/2015

Note: Since the following statement was issued on 27 May 2015, the trial dates for legal action in the Federal Court have changed. Court hearings will now commence on 5 September 2016.

The following statement is provided by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman, Dr. Russell Reichelt:

On 3 April 2010, the Chinese-registered bulk carrier Shen Neng 1 caused the largest known direct impact on a coral reef by a ship grounding.

When the ship ran aground at Douglas Shoal, north-east of Gladstone, it damaged an area covering 0.4 square kilometres — of this, we estimate 115,000 square metres of the shoal were severely damaged or destroyed.

It also left toxic anti-fouling paint on the reef and on substantial areas of loose coral rubble created by the grounding.

However, despite ongoing attempts to have the ship’s owner pay for damages, the Commonwealth was unsuccessful in securing funds from the ship owner or its insurer to clean-up and remediate the site.

This has been a great disappointment, particularly given the nature and scale of the incident, and GBRMPA remains concerned about the long-term health of the shoal.

This is why the Commonwealth has had no alternative but to take legal action in the Federal Court.

The proceeding has been listed for trial for 15 days commencing in April 2016 in Brisbane.

The Commonwealth is seeking damages from the ship’s owner for the cost of remediation of the shoal or, as an alternative, orders requiring remediation of the shoal by the ship’s owner.

GBRMPA has continued to closely monitor the state of the shoal and to assess what is required for recovery of the shoal.

GBRMPA’s first priority in remediating the shoal would be to attempt to remove the remaining anti-fouling paint and residue. This would allow some natural recovery processes to begin.

In the meantime, the Commonwealth remains committed to making every attempt to obtain a negotiated outcome with the ship’s owner for the clean-up and remediation of the shoal.

Name: GBRMPA media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846