A call for international help to get a fishing boat off FSM reef | Pacific Beat

A call for international help to get a fishing boat off FSM reef

A call for international help to get a fishing boat off FSM reef

Updated 6 February 2014, 12:11 AEDT

In the Federated States of Micronesia, a state of emergency has been in force for more than a week after Ping Da 7, the ship that ran aground on Pohnpei reef in early December, started leaking oil.

All attempts to refloat the giant Chinese-owned fish transport vessel have failed so far, and a Presidential declaration has warned that the Kiribati registered ship poses "a substantial environmental threat."

The Conservation Society of Pohnpei says while the oil spill has been contained, international assistance is desperately needed to get the ship off the reef.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: Jorg Anson, Marine Programme Manager for the Conservation Society of Pohnpei

ANSON: As far as the oil spill the state government was able to form a taskforce where the taskforce also formed a subsequent assessment team, and that assessment team was able to contain the oil spill.
EWART: But the bigger problem of course remains that the ship is still there and presumably the longer it remains the more damage it's going to cause to the reef and the wider environment. Why is it taking so long to get this ship off the reef do you know?
ANSON: I cannot really talk about some information due to the legality of it, but what I can say now is that there's a lack of cooperation between the taskforce and the owner of the vessel and the insurance of that ship as well. So there's sort of disconnect between the collaboration that has pushed all the cooperation efforts to remove the ship off the reef.
EWART: My understanding is that the owner of the ship is in Hong Kong and claims that he doesn't have the money to pay for its removal?
ANSON: Yeah it's very sad that that information was released by the owner. We are now appealing to the united part of it because you have an owner who does not want to collaborate with our country and therefore the ship remains here, and we're doing all that we can locally here on the islands, even though we have limited resources and capacity to remove this ship off of the reef.
EWART: So you're satisfied are you that the government has handled the situation as well as it can under the circumstances?
ANSON: In some ways because I understand we're at as far as we can go, because we do not have all the resources that can help us or that we can utilise to remove the ship off the reef. But we really need international help on this situation right now, because it seems like the joint effort can only do is seek out assistance from our neighbouring countries or even the United States to assist us, because the owner of the ship is not collaborating with the established joint effort here on the island.
EWART: Of course a request for help went to the US Coastguard back when the ship first grounded in December, but essentially the US is saying it's not their problem, not in their waters, I assume that remains the case?
ANSON: Yes, you're right, and from my own understanding I do not whether they even tried to follow up on that effort and that it remains same.
EWART: And so as it is stands the Ping Da is stuck on the reef and likely to remain there for the foreseeable future, so from your point of view, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei, you must be extremely fearful about the amount of environmental damage that will be caused and has already been caused?
ANSON: Well we are already starting to work with our partners throughout the region to sort of work together on … in order to the reef evaluation and see the damage on the reef. And the case has been pushed forward on … civil case that will be carried out at the Federated States of Micronesia Supreme Court. And we hope that something can be settled over there.
EWART: But no immediate signs of the ship being removed? Is any sort of operation underway at the moment to try and get it off the reef?
ANSON: Well right now there are no operations, and the ship will be sitting here for quite some time.
EWART: Which from your point of view, your organisation's point of view plainly must be deeply disturbing?
ANSON: Yeah we put all the trust in our government and we hope that they can work something out and that the ship can be removed out of our reef as soon as possible.

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