Prosecute Those Allegedly Responsible for Great Barrier Reef Oil Leak

Target: Ms. Sarah McNaughton SC, Director of Australia’s Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Goal: Pursue charges against the operators of a ship that leaked 10 to 15 tons of oil near the Great Barrier Reef.

Up to 15 tons of oil leaked from a ship near the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia, last year. In what Ports Minister Mark Bailey describes as an act of “environmental vandalism” and “hit-and-run,” the fragile Great Barrier Reef was impacted, two seabirds were killed, oil washed ashore, and the Australian government faced a cleanup cost of roughly $1.5 million. It took two weeks for the beaches affected to be cleared of the oil.

After an intense, year-long investigation of 17 ships, including interviews, records checks, and oil sample tests, Queensland authorities were able to track and identify the ship allegedly involved in the oil spill. While the name of the ship and the identities of its operators have not been released, evidence has been handed over to the country’s Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP). The organization will decide whether or not charges will be brought against the operators allegedly involved in the environmental disaster.

The Great Barrier Reef is already one of the world’s most fragile environmental marvels. Due to climate change, it has been experiencing mass bleaching and the elimination of major species that used to call the reef home. The recent oil spill may have been small compared to past oil spills in the history of the world (the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico leaked an estimated 200 million gallons of oil into the water), yet it adversely affected one of the world’s most delicate ecosystems in which thousands of fish, corals, mollusks, and other marine species live.

Those responsible for this oil spill should be held accountable for the damage they have caused. Sign the petition below to urge Australia’s CDPP to formally prosecute the ship’s operators allegedly responsible for the leakage of more than 33,000 pounds of oil along the Great Barrier Reef.


Dear Ms. McNaughton,

The Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of marine life species. Recently, it has experienced severe bleaching and the subsequent disappearance of hundreds of species due to climate change. As the fragile ecosystem struggles to thrive, it experienced another devastating tragedy in after a ship spilled up to 15 tons of oil off the coast of Queensland.

The damage cost the Australian government roughly $1.5 million and took two weeks to properly clean up. Thankfully, the damage that occurred was not as devastating as that of past oil spills. However, the Reef’s diverse and unique marine life was adversely affected.

After a year-long investigation, authorities in Queensland have finally identified the ship allegedly involved in what Ports Minister Mark Bailey describes as an act of “environmental vandalism.” The decision of whether or not to press charges on the ship’s operators has since been handed over to your organization, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

I urge you to pursue charges against the alleged operators of the ship that inflicted damage upon such a unique ecosystem. The threats brought upon the reef by the actions of humans should not be ignored and prosecuting those allegedly responsible will bring much-needed attention to the dangers and damage the Reef is undergoing due to human deeds.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Steve Evans

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