Photo via dicktay2000 via Flickr CC
We've been watching the drama unfold around the Chinese coal-carrying ship that grounded on the Great Barrier Reef, causing damage to the fragile ecosystem that could take decades to heal. Two of the crew members have been arrested by the Australian government and we're waiting to find out if a fine and/or jail sentence will be issued. However, the incident sparked more than arrest. Australia is now tightening up its shipping regulations so that the incident - which is damaging to both the reef and to Australia's lucrative tourist trade. The BBC reports that Australia is looking at requiring greater surveillance of ships passing near the Great Barrier Reef, including being tracked by satellite and required to regularly report their movements.
While the regulations were being drafted before the Shen Neng 1 grounded, there is now a reason to hurry them along.
Richard Leck from WWF Australia also believes that professional navigators can prevent accidents, including the recent grounding of the Chinese bulk carrier.
"The key thing that we see is needed alongside this tracking system is to have pilots onboard every large that traverses the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area. Most of the incidents that occur within the World Heritage area are due to human error. It seems like this incident occurred due to fatigue and the only way of managing that risk is to make sure there is a pilot onboard every vessel," Mr Leck said.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most well known coral reefs, and it serves as an ambassador for coral reefs across the globe. Reefs are home to the bulk of life in the oceans, and they're under an incredible amount of stress from a combination of pollution, rising ocean temperatures, and overfishing. Additional stress from ships ramming into them is certainly unneeded and unwelcome.
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More on the Great Barrier Reef and the Shen Neng 1
UPDATED: Coal-Carrying Ship Wrecked on Barrier Reef - Captain and Crew Think It's No Big Deal
UPDATED: Coal-Carrying Ship Wrecked on Barrier Reef Leaves 2-Mile Scar, 20-Year Damage
UPDATED: Coal-Carrying Ship Wrecked on Barrier Reef Will Take Weeks to Remove