Australia seeks USD90m for damage to Great Barrier Reef

The government of Australia is seeking AUD120 million (USD92.1 million) for the damages made to Douglas Shoal in the southern Great Barrier Reef when a general cargo ship Shen Neng 1 grounded in the area in April 2010.

The government is asking the owner of the vessel, China-based shipowner Shenzhen Energy Transportation, to pay for the clean-up operations following the grounding off Queensland.

Maritime insurer The London P&I Club, which represents the owners of the vessel, said that the Shen Neng 1 incident was the result of an error by the chief officer of the vessel, who was employed by an independent ship management company, but that the Australian Government has decided to pursue the owners for environmental remediation costs.

The Commonwealth’s estimates have ranged from AUD70 million to AUD194 million, however, the London P&I Club noted that the owner’s environmental experts said that the damage was not as significant as some suggestions by the Commonwealth.

The results of the most recent survey in May 2016 show that there is evidence that large parts of the shoal are recovering naturally, and that going ‘all out’ with human remediation efforts, such as dredging as proposed by the Commonwealth, “would be environmentally counter-productive,” The London P&I Club added.

It was estimated that the grounding caused damages to an area covering 0.4 square kilometres at Douglas Shoal, of which 115,000 square metres “were severely damaged or destroyed,” the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority earlier said, adding that the incident also left toxic anti-fouling paint on the reef and on substantial areas of loose coral rubble created by the grounding.

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