May 5, 2005

Owner pays $76,150 for garbage bag

Fines totalling Australian $97,500 (about US $76,150) were handed down yesterday in the Sydney Magistrates Court against the owners and master of the Hong Kong registered chemical tanker Bow De Jin for garbage pollution in waters off New South Wales, Australia.

A member of the public found a large plastic bag bearing an Australian Quarantine Inspection Service seal floating in Hastings River in January 2003.

It was one of four bags used by AQIS officers to seal meat products found aboard the Bow De Jin during an inspection in December 2002.

Each bag was sealed with a numbered plastic tie, which was used by officers from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), assisted by AQIS, to identify the vessel.

The shipowners pleaded guilty to offenses under the Commonwealth Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983. The maximum fine for these offenses is A$110,000 (about US $85,000) for the shipowner and A$22,000 (about US $17,200) for the ship's master.

AMSA's Chief Executive Officer, Clive Davidson, praised the initiative of the member of public who notified authorities about finding the plastic bag.

"Australia has strict laws against ship-sourced pollution, and the discharge of any plastics into the sea is absolutely prohibited," Davidson said.

"Most garbage pollution found along the coastline cannot be traced to its origin, but fortunately in this case it could. The community can be confident that instances of this type of pollution are taken seriously by the relevant authorities and by Australian courts."


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