Gelineau reports that "the 755-foot (230-meter) Shen Neng 1 was successfully lifted off the reef Monday after crews spent three days pumping fuel to lighten it. Salvage crews later towed it to an anchorage area near Great Keppel Island, 45 miles (70 kilometers) away. Its refloating left a scar 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) long and up to 820 feet (250 meters) wide." (Gelineau, 1)
Indeed, according to environmental workers reporting on the site, this is seen as one of the most catastrophic groundings in recent decades. The report claims that it will be at least another twenty years before the immediate ecosystem can recover from the damage inflicted upon it both by the flattening of reef and marine life and by the intrusion of toxins from paint on the ship's hull into the devastated habitat. For the wildlife sanctuaries which are in the immediate surround of the impacted area, the diminishing of variation and plenteousness in the food chain could have a ripple effect.
The same incident highlights another of the dangers to the environment from heightened imports which is correlated to accidental grounding. Reports have emerged in the weeks since the Chinese tanker ran aground that globules of oil have surfaced in the waters and on the beaches in close proximity to the point of collision. The presence of tanker fuel in the ecological system threatens also to rain further disruption upon the process of healing for the reef. The article by Gelineau indicates that "on Wednesday, a team of about 25 people was working to clean up bits of oil that had begun washing ashore on North West Island, a turtle hatchery and bird sanctuary about 12 miles (18 kilometers) from where the ship crashed into the reef, said Adam Nicholson, a maritime safety spokesman for the northeastern state of Queensland. The globules were about an inch (3 centimeters) wide, and were scattered across about a half-mile (1 kilometer) of beach on the island." (Gelineau, 1)
These efforts are girded by the Australian government's investigation of the options before it with respect to improving prevention methods where grounding is concerned. Indeed, this is a problem with a long history that though lessened by the escalation of environmental laws within Australia in recent decades, is demonstrated by this incident to still be a viable concern both for shipping operations and for environmentalists. Quite to the point, the entrance of a whole host of new trading partners in light of globalization should Australian, Pacific and global ecologists on notice. The need for global regulation, this suggests, is now greater than ever, given the relative incapacity of many developing governments to impose this level of control over their own private operations.
First and foremost in achieving these security and safety improvements will be the convergence of the international community on plans for providing the proper defenses against accidental invasion of hazardous natural phenomena such as the Great Barrier Reef.
Recommendations for Policy-makers:
Though globalization is already stimulating massive global transformation, it will be the degree to which nations and people are able to reconcile major cultural, ideological and political differences that will really define the future. For the world community, the intercession of these factors must create more collective standards on issues such as labor equality and environmental protection. Certainly, this must be said of the rising environmental and ecological imperatives throughout the global community. Based on Australia's clear dedication to the process of globalization as a core of its international policy, it seems apparent that Australia's dedication to and influence within the G20 has the potential to be greater than that which it currently possesses in the United Nations. This seems to be the philosophical implication couched in former Prime Minister Rudd's own remarks in an appearance on July of 2009, where he reported to the gathered members that "further, cooperation in the G20 has helped the world resist beggar thy neighbour policies in trade and finance. In Washington G20 leaders committed to a tariff standstill. While the WTO has identified some slippage, overall it reports that the international community is holding to this, thereby saving the world from a repeat of the tit-for-tat protectionism that choked off recovery in the 1930s." (Rudd, 1)
Australia's capacity to register as a positive influence in its region should be considered its greatest priority. It is only thus that Australia may hope to preserve its own ecological progress and use its dedication to the force of globalization by helping to raise up those developing nations which are impacted by poverty, disease and tyranny within its own region. This emphasis on regional engagement through such agencies as APEC suggests a greater opportunity for Australia to seize on its position as a leader there within, particularly in order to apply pressure to nations such as China to make regulatory changes in order to continue in its role as a major trade partner.
With respect to the centrality of import operations in today's economic landscape, the current thrust cannot be reversed. It would no longer be financially rational to discuss import dependencies in an optional or hypothetical way. Instead, it is appropriate to consider the ways that these dependencies might be made more reliable and more accountable. Australia is in a position -- indeed given the grounding of the Shen Neng 1, under a swell of pressure as well -- to enforce changes amongst its trade partners in terms of the regulatory oversights designed to protect environmental interests.
In the grounding of the Shen Neng 1, we have been given clear evidence that while import operations do comprise a dominant part of the economic landscape for us, we are only now at the very early stages in terms of refining Australia's increasingly more important role as a regional leader. Many vulnerabilities do still exist for the Pacific power. Therefore, if we are to truly realize the benefits of an import economy, it must be through a framework of international regulation which conforms with our rising standards and values in the areas of conservation, ecology, environmentalism and sustainability.