Shipping master fined $17,500 for navigating no-go zone

A commercial shipping master caught navigating a tow vessel in a no-go zone in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was convicted and fined $17,500 in the Cairns Magistrates Court this week.

The Cairns-based master pleaded guilty to navigating a vessel in a no-go zone in the vicinity of Cape Grenville for a distance of almost five kilometres for 30 minutes on the 4 June 2017.

Under Marine Park legislation, ships must only travel in Designated Shipping Areas or general use zones to protect the environment.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority field management director Richard Quincey said it was a timely reminder for all commercial vessel masters to know the rules.

“These types of penalties act to keep shipping in the designated shipping areas,” Mr Quincey said.

“The REEF Vessel Traffic Service detected the transgression and reported the incident to the Marine Park Authority.”

Known as REEF VTS, the system monitors commercial shipping in the Marine Park to enhance navigational safety, minimise accidents and pollution, and coordinate rapid response to incidents.

REEF VTS is operated under joint arrangements between the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Maritime Safety Queensland.

The master was prosecuted for a breach of Section 38BA (1) of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975.