Aussies find Zodiac guilty

Zodiac Maritime Agencies has been fined over a pollution incident involving one of its vehicle carriers in Australian waters in 2012.

The shipowner has been ordered to pay AUD 5,000 ($4,700) plus costs after it was found guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.

Zodiac subsidiary Lombard Corporate Finance Ltd was found guilty of contravening section 26F (3) of the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983.

The prosecution follows a pollution incident in Port Phillips Heads involving the 4,900-ceu Morning Midas (built 2006).

The charges relate to a collision between the pilot launch Wyuna III and a mooring line discarded by Morning Midas in the early hours of 1 August 2012.

The 30-35m mooring line was found discarded in the vicinity of the pilot boarding station outside Port Phillip Heads when Wyuna III collided with it, fouling its propellers and stalling both engines.

An investigation by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) found charts indicating two GPS locations from Morning Midas’ deck log book and the site of the collision of the Wyuna III with the mooring line.

“The location of the discharge was within Australian territorial waters in or near the pilot boarding ground and Morning Midas failed to report a danger to navigation posed by the mooring line,” AMSA said.

Acting ship safety division general manager Alex Schultz-Altmann said the area, south west of Point Lonsdale and close to Port Phillips Heads, is a focal point of maritime traffic of all shapes and sizes entering or departing Port Phillip Bay.

“An estimated 3,100 merchant vessels alone visit the port each year. Any danger to navigation posed by pollution such as a discarded mooring line could have catastrophic consequences for the safety of ships and potential environmental harm.

“It is fortunate the unreported hazard of the discarded mooring line did not cause damage to the steering or propulsion of any larger commercial ships in the pilot boarding ground of Port Phillip Heads.”

Ships are required to report any pollution or navigational hazards under the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act.

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