Stranding may threaten reef

Tuesday January 09, 2018 Written by Published in Local
Eff orts to free the fi shing vessel Zambucca from the reef yesterday included driving two large diggers across the lagoon to the stranding site off Muri. Drone image courtesy of Kirby Morejohn. 18010812 Eff orts to free the fi shing vessel Zambucca from the reef yesterday included driving two large diggers across the lagoon to the stranding site off Muri. Drone image courtesy of Kirby Morejohn. 18010812

The stranding of the Ocean Fresh longline fishing vessel Zambucca on the reef at Muri on Friday night could pose an environmental threat to the reef and lagoon habitats, the Ministry of Marine Resources says.

 

Efforts to free the vessel from the reef continued yesterday with the help of two large diggers, but were unsuccessful.

In a Facebook post, the ministry said physical damage to the reef and fuel leakages were the main concern.

“Fortunately, the majority of fuel on board the Ocean Fresh vessel has been safely removed and thus far, no leaks have been observed,” a ministry spokesperson said.

“The location of the vessel is in an area next to the Aroko ra’ui where MMR recently conducted fish, invertebrate and coral surveys. As efforts continue to remove the vessel from the reef, the ministry’s primary concern is the protection of the reef and health of the environment.

“The ministry will continue to observe and monitor the salvage activities, including the use of heavy machinery in the lagoon, and will conduct a re-survey of the area after the salvage efforts are concluded.

“These kinds of activities can be dangerous for those involved and we support efforts to salvage the vessel safely and efficiently.”

The FV Zambucca is a Cook Islands-flagged, 20 metre long fishing vessel which has been operating out of Rarotonga since 2016. The vessel is licensed and authorised to fish within the Cook Islands waters under the MMR longline fishery regulations and quota management system.

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