Reef spill reports spark calls to ban rogue ships

THE Australian Marine Conservation Society has expressed concerns about reports that turtles and sea birds have been found covered in oil near Townsville.

The reports follow an oil spill on the Great Barrier Reef two weeks ago.

"This oil spill is fast becoming a toxic mess for our precious marine life. If this is what has happened above water we can only imagine what's happening below the water on the Reefs," Great Barrier Reef campaigner Gemma Plesman said.

"In the wake of this damaging spill the Australian community has several questions that the authorities need to answer.

"Where did the oil come from?  Has the spill been cleaned up? What damage has been done to Reefs and other the marine life? What is being done to ensure other marine life is not impacted? 

"The spill is a stark reminder of the threats increased shipping poses to the Great Barrier Reef.

"Government has approved port expansions and massive dredging projects to allow more ships to cross the Reef.

"More ships mean a greater risk of oil spills, groundings and collisions. Australia can't afford more oil spills in the Reef's waters.

"The Government must ban 'rogue' vessels with a history of poor sea-worthiness or seamanship from entering the Reef's waters.''