Greenpeace activists board Australian coal ship in reef protest

SYDNEY Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:20am EDT

Six Greenpeace activists board a coal ship bound for South Korea near Australia's Great Barrier Reef in this handout picture from environmental group Greenpeace April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Greenpeace/Handout

Six Greenpeace activists board a coal ship bound for South Korea near Australia's Great Barrier Reef in this handout picture from environmental group Greenpeace April 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Greenpeace/Handout

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Six Greenpeace activists boarded a coal ship bound for South Korea near Australia's Great Barrier Reef on Wednesday, protesting against the expansion of the rich Australian coal industry and its impact on the World Heritage site.

Environmentalists say the Great Barrier Reef, a popular tourist site worth about A$6 billion ($6.1 billion) a year to the Australia economy, is threatened by dredging, sedimentation and coal port and shipping development.

UNESCO will decide in June whether the reef should be listed as a World Heritage Site in danger.

The ship MV Meister was carrying thermal coal from Abbot Point in northern Queensland state, a port that falls within the Great Barrier Reef heritage area, and was still in Australian waters in the Coral Sea when it was boarded en route to Donghae in South Korea.

"They have established a peaceful occupation of the ship," said Georgina Woods, a climate campaigner on board Greenpeace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior.

Activists launched inflatable boats from the Rainbow Warrior and boarded the coal vessel early on Wednesday. A letter was handed to the captain of the ship detailing their reasons for the occupation.

"Ordinary people will have to stand up to stop the expansion of coal exports and that's what Greenpeace is doing today," Woods said.

The Australian Coal Association, an advocacy body representing the industry, said the action was dangerous and irresponsible.

Coal is Australia's second-largest commodity, with exports increasing some 50 percent over the past 10 years and worth almost A$60 billion in 2011-2012.

"We need to ensure that our sector remains internationally competitive to ensure that Australia benefits from the sustainable development of its coal resources," Nikki Williams, CEO of the Australian Coal Association, said in a statement.

"The Australian people have not given Greenpeace a veto over its economic future."

Heralded as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the 2,000 km (1,200 mile) Great Barrier Reef is home to 400 types of coral, 240 species of birds and 1,500 species of fish.

(Reporting By Thuy Ong; Editing by Paul Tait)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
JamVee wrote:
“Activists”, who take a quasi-militaristic approach, like this, should be treated like the criminals they are. Just because they believe they are in the right, they somehow think this gives them the right to force their viewpoints down other peoples throats. IT DOES NOT!

Apr 25, 2013 8:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Overcast451 wrote:
Good now after a long day of wasting boat fuel – you can go home in your Prius, fire up your PC and rant on the web, start up a nice hot coffee pot, flip on the TV and the Air Conditioning – all brought to you be a coal power plant somewhere..

Apr 30, 2013 10:15am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Photo

California's historic drought

With reservoirs at record lows, California is in the midst of the worst drought in decades.  Slideshow