A CHINESE shipping company has been fined $20,000 for illegally dumping garbage near Gladstone last year.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has prosecuted China Earth Shipping Incorporated - the owner of bulker Xin Tai Hai - and the ship's master for discharging garbage in June 2013.
Maritime Union of Australia Gladstone's Jason Miners said he was "happy" AMSA followed through with prosecution and delivered the fine.
But he said: "In reality this kind of stuff goes on every day and nothing happens because it's too hard to find evidence of wrongdoing."
"In this instance a fisherman was in the right place at the right time," he said.
The company and the ship's master entered guilty pleas in Townsville Magistrate's Court last week.
Charges were laid as a result of an investigation by AMSA under the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act.
AMSA ship safety division general manager Allan Schwartz said - in line with international conventions - Australia did not tolerate ships dumping garbage in the ocean.
"Shipowners and their masters need to understand these incidents are investigated and (can) lead to prosecution," Mr Schwartz said.
"These regulations exist to ensure sensitive sea areas such as the Great Barrier Reef are protected."
A statement released by AMSA said a local fisherman had reported seeing a number of plastic bags of dumped rubbish on June 13 last year.
AMSA identified Xin Tai Hai as the potential source of the pollution through the Vessel Traffic Service in Gladstone, which tracks vessels transiting through the area after the report was received by the Gladstone Volunteer Marine Service.
An AMSA surveyor boarded the ship berthed in Gladstone and the investigation found similar items to those found in the ocean.
As well as the $20,000 fine to the company, the ship's master was also fined $6000 for illegally discharging the garbage and failing to record it in the garbage record book.