Protecting the Great Barrier Reef

Shipping Company Fined for Dumping Rubbish


In 2018, bulk carrier Irongate was travelling from Brisbane and Gladstone when its chief officer approved the dumping of its rubbish into the sea. The equivalent of a 120-litre household garbage bin full of food waste was released into the world heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef National Park, about 24 kilometres southeast of Lady Elliot Island.

Protecting Australia’s diverse and precious marine life is secure under the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 (The Act). Under this law, food waste cannot be discharged within 12 nautical miles of the boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. So, when the chief officer approved the discharge inside of this boundary, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) was required to step in and facilitate a prosecution.

On Friday 26 February 2021, the owner of the ship and the chief officer were fined and convicted in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to the tune of $6,600, which also represents a significant public shaming for the infraction.

This sends a strong message to international and local ships that enforcement of The Act is a priority for Australian regulators who are determined to see prosecutions through. The outcome is a testament to the men and women who work tirelessly to protect our environmental security. It’s difficult to ignore, however, that it took three years to reach this result.

We sympathise with environmental regulators who carry the responsibility of protecting the environment, reducing future damage and seeking justice from those who continue to break the law. Powerful, complete, error-free and watertight briefs of evidence are essential to successful outcomes in these cases, which are often extremely complex and challenging to build.

When the details of a case are indisputable and the framework of the brief is rigorous, judges have a clear pathway to rule in the regulator’s favour. The domino effect is profound as cases then move more quickly through the courts, making room for others to also pass through more quickly. The ultimate goal is to resolve matters with such weight and consistency that this then helps to prevent polluters from risking their profits and reputation at all.

At Comtrac, we have worked tirelessly to advance a technological solution that significantly supports regulators to carry out their incredibly important work. We invite you to learn all about our case management software solution that is purpose-built for regulatory agencies. End the problem of wasted time, money and resources on cases that may ultimately fail, or drag on for years at great expense. Get in touch with Comtrac today.


Captain Rubbish Dump $6k fine: