Clean-up crews will battle sticky oil blobs washing ashore on north Queensland beaches for a fourth day.
Local and state agency crews were deployed to Forrest Beach near Ingham, Mulligan Bay on Hinchinbrook Island, Taylors Beach near Lucinda, and Palm Island on the weekend after reports oil clumps were washing onto the shoreline.
Some were as big as dinner plates.
The same mainland beaches will be targeted on Tuesday but efforts will refocus to Big Butler Bay and Small Butler Bay on Palm Island, and Ramsay Bay on Hinchinbrook Island.
Residents have been told to keep away from the affected beaches while the clean-up is under way.
But on Palm Island, oil has washed onto beaches where people live.
Mayor Alf Lacey says authorities have been “light on information” and locals didn’t know whether sea life was safe to eat.
“(Palm Islanders) do not have the opportunity to drive to the supermarket,” he told AAP.
“The water and the beaches, and the land is the supermarket for the local people.”
The oil spill was reported near Cape Upstart, south of Townsville, on July 17.
A transport department spokesman says oil samples from nine out of 10 domestic tankers in the area at the time have been tested in a bid to identify the culprit.
Four tankers that have since headed overseas will also be tested.
The government should cap the number of ships going through the area to stop a similar incident happening again, Greenpeace climate energy campaigner Nikola Casule said.
“The reality is that the more ships we have going through the reef, the more likely there is going to be an accident,” he told AAP.
The World Wildlife Fund and Australian Marine Conservation Society also called for ships with a bad history of sea worthiness or seamanship to be banned from the reef.
They also called on the government to send crews to investigate whether any oil was stuck on the reef.
So far there’s been no reports of wildlife being affected.