April 11, 2010 / 12:54 AM / 10 years ago

Australia charges crew with taking ship via reef

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Three foreign men have been charged with steering a cargo ship through a restricted part of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, police said on Sunday, days after another bulk carrier ran aground in the same marine park.

The men allegedly took Panama-registered bulk carrier MV Mimosa through the reef marine park on April 4 using an unauthorized shipping route, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement.

Last Sunday the China-registered Shen Neng 1 foundered on the reef while traveling outside approved shipping lanes, threatening the delicate environment of the World Heritage-listed marine park.

After entering the reef, the Mimosa allegedly headed for Abbot Point Coal Terminal, near the town of Bowen in Queensland state, police said in a statement. The three men were arrested in Bowen on Saturday and are due to appear in court on Monday in the northeastern city of Townsville.

The three, a 63-year-old South Korean and two Vietnamese aged 26 and 32, have been charged with offences under the 1975 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act and face fines of up to A$220,000 ($205,000), police said.

Police did not name the ship’s owners.

Australia has vowed a major overhaul of shipping regulations in order to protect the reef following the Shen Neng 1 incident.

Reporting by Chris McCall; Editing by Louise Ireland

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